Wilson hams it up at Mitzy?s puppy school

THE media went hog wild when Wilson, the miniature pig, showed up for puppy training in Rockhampton on Saturday.

Well, at least we at The Bully were intrigued when Melinda Peterson arrived with her harnessed and leashed ham-hocked companion.

That's right ? we're not telling a porky.

Even animal behavioural trainer Mitzy Voiles thought there was more chance of pigs flying than attending one of her classes.

Turns out to be a historic first for the trainer of seven years, who runs CQ Canine Coaching, which operates exclusively from the High Street Vet Clinic.

"I still remember checking my (phone) messages after Melinda first called,'' Ms Voiles said.

"I asked myself 'did she just say pig dog?'.''

"I rewound it to listen again and it was like, oh my gosh, it's a pig, it's definitely a pig.''

All jokes aside, pigs are actually intelligent animals, ranking better than dogs in the IQ stakes, Ms Voiles said.

Training them is very much the same ? using positive reinforcement and rewarding good behaviour.

As for eight-week-old Wilson's first day in the classroom ? well it all went just swine.

He learned how to sit for his food and, apart from the odd piggy-tantrum, he succeeded.

"The key is using food which doesn't get him over-excited,'' Ms Voiles said.

The next challenge during Wilson's five-week program will be introducing him to his canine classmates.

Will he feel like a pig out of mud?

"I think he'll be fine,'' Ms Voiles said.

"We're very careful about interaction ? it's not just a puppy free-for-all.''

Ms Voiles said the big challenge would be ensuring Wilson does not get too far ahead of his slower-learning colleagues.

Ms Peterson said Wilson was chosen as a pet for "something different'' and he had settled in well with her dog and goat.

"He's got a bit of an attitude but that's why he's going to training,'' she said.



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