, she’s truly "some pig." There are no glistening webs of talented spiders to back up such claim; only the word of her caretaker.
"We got a cow pig," says Mike Veara, manager of China Grove Ranch near Bonney.
Feast your eyes on the behemoth of a beast and you will see this cow dog wannabe sort cattle in a way that puts movie idol Babe—whose claim to fame is herding sheep—to shame.
At five years old and tipping the scales at close to 600 pounds, Squeaky holds her own with any wayward bovine.
"We were penning cattle and she started putting the cows together," Mike says of the talented pig. "When a cow would break, she’d whip out there and bring it back in."
Mike found the quarter-ton-of-fun as a piglet in a pasture lying next to her dead mother. He decided to take her in, something that had never crossed his mind before with other orphaned piglets. The half-pint showed no objection, not one squeal.
Named by his grandson, Squeaky has been Mike’s helper at the China Grove Ranch ever since. The patch of land is owned by baseball great Nolan Ryan. The Hall of Famer has even fallen victim to the porker’s pranks, watching her run off with his boots on occasion.
"She’s not really like a wild hog, more like a pet. She goes everywhere we go," Mike says. "If we had a bull get out, we’d turn the pig out. She can do it easier than we can on horseback."
Squeaky is more intimidating than a cow dog and even has her own bark. That’s one thing she’s sure to have picked up from her two canine co-workers.
Every morning Mike loads up and heads to pasture, Squeaky trots faithfully beside the pick-up, with one eye on Mike and one on the road. She knows his voice and commands, responding without hesitation, a personable pig with affection for the hand that feeds her.
It’s an unusual job title for a species that has been anything but welcome on Texas ranches. Feral hogs have a destructive reputation and are invading every inch of the Lone Star State. Ironic that it’s that same pedigree and unique talent that have made Squeaky a multimedia celebrity.
"They stop on the road and they know it’s her," Mike says. "Four or five cars will stop and somebody will roll the window down and ask, ‘Is that Squeaky?’"
Most fans of celebrities request autographs or pictures; Squeaky’s bring something to the table—scraps.
Cattle ranching is hard work and Squeaky has earned her keep. After the day is unsaddled, this porker has but one request—call her when it’s time for pizza.
"Sometimes we’d bring it out here for lunch and we laid the box down one time and she grabbed it and took off," Mike recalls. "So we started feeding her pizza when she did good things and she’s loved it ever since."
Her favorite is a large pepperoni, washed down with a Coke and Dr Pepper. For dessert—Stay Puft marshmallows, anyone?
Hog heaven takes on a whole new meaning. It’s no wonder this pig prefers the comforts of the ranch over the wild. She gets all the medical attention a normal pet would get, plus her own pig penthouse, complete with all the luxuries of home; well, a pig’s home, anyway.
When she’s not hamming it up with the cows, Squeaky stands guard over the ranch. She knows who belongs and who doesn’t. Even other hogs, raccoons and opossums aren’t welcome in her eyes.
However gentle she may appear, Mike says you can never forget she’s a wild animal. While Squeaky warms to some visitors, others should beware.
"If you come out here with slacks, white shirt and cologne on... well you’ve got a problem because she’ll definitely jack with you," he says.
China Grove is where Squeaky will live and finish out her days. Her herding days are, for the most part, done. After all, 600-pounds is quite a load to carry. Perhaps a switch to diet soda is in order?
"That’s something to think about," Mike says with a smile.
In the meantime, a good scratch and a mud hole visit is the life for Squeaky, the not-so-feral cow pig.
Veara raised Squeaky from a piglet. Squeaky showed a knack for herding cattle early in life.
Though Squeaky is gentle in nature, you can never forget she is a wild animal. A sign warns all visitors who enter the China Grove Ranch.
Squeaky’s reward after all her hard work is her favorite: a pepperoni pizza washed down with a Coke and Dr Pepper.