How One Pig Became a Town Mascot, and the Best Friend She Made Along the Way

Porkchop and Harley may have been two different species, but they had one big thing in common: snackin’.

Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Animals to Animals” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Harley and Porkchop. To see our full list of finalists, go to and vote in each category.

Halloween was approaching, and as I arranged pumpkins, hay bales, and scarecrows on the front porch, I noticed some unusual movement along the fence line. I couldn’t quite make out what the critter was—it looked rather like a bald raccoon’s backside. Days later, lo and behold, the wild critter emerged: a piglet, moseying along, rooting around for morsels, and occasionally grunting in contentment.

As the days went on, the pig was sighted by neighbors within a few miles’ radius and had picked up a companion: Harley, a neighbor’s black lab. By spring, the pig had been dubbed “Porkchop,” and had 2,900 Facebook followers. As it turned out, the pig was an escapee from a nearby farm, which didn’t want the pig back due to her frequent Houdini tendencies.

a pig and a black dog in the grass in a backyardCourtesy Joanne Clayton

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Porkchop and Harley made an awesome team, wandering all around Herrin, Illinois, accepting pats and treats from whoever would oblige. They’d often stop by my fence to chit-chat with my bulldog, grunting and snorting at each other through the fence. The duo acquired many human friends who’d often knock on my door to see if I knew where the twosome was. Porkchop ate quite a lot and neighborhood folks helped me keep her fed, dropping off bags of feed and various fruits and vegetables. Even the local pizzeria would drop bags of lettuce by my house every few days—though there was nothing Porkchop loved more than watermelon or grapes.

close up of pig eating watermelonCourtesy Joanne Clayton

She could often be found snoozing in a small patch of woods in front of my home. She’d slowly rise when I called her name (in anticipation of food, of course). I put out a bucket of water that Porkchop learned to drink from, which eventually evolved into her tipping it over to make a mud puddle to wallow in.

Porkchop was regarded as the town mascot by Herrin’s mayor. Porkchop t-shirts were sold at our town’s Italian festival, and there was even a bank-sponsored Porkchop parade float. But her popularity soon became her downfall. Too many people were driving in to see Porkchop, and she was relocated to a rescue farm where she now resides with goats, other pigs, and even a camel. Harley is lonesome without his adventuring friend but still comes by my house for treats.