When I asked Daria to describe herself, she got
right to the point "Married withpigs,"
she said. A lot of parents might proffer that
same derogatory portrayal of theirchildren. Kids
are notorious for bedrooms that look like 'pigsties."
Kids canbe 'pigheaded" - obstinate. 'Piggish"
- dirty or selfish. But Daria wasn’t referring
to herchildren. She has none. She was referring
to her pigs. She has five of them. Vietnamesepot
belly pigs, each weighing anywhere from 180 to
In the '80's and early '90's there was a fad for
pet pigs. 'I saw one and thought it was the cutest
thing I'd ever seen," Daria recalls. She
bought her first pig in'92 and inexplicably named
Weegoo weighs several hundred pounds today. But
as a piglet she would come into bed and cuddle.
'It was great if you got to cuddle against her
back," Daria says. Of course if you were
pressed against her hoof side, she wasn’t so cuddly.
"And,” Daria goes on, "her snout is
wonderful. Hard as a rock. A big muscle made for
digging. Just a remarkable nose. Great to kiss
and rub on."
Daria has never succumbed to misconceptions about
her pigs. She likes them for what they are. It
is the misconceptions of others that have led
to her gathering of pigs.
“People bought these little five or ten pound
piglets from deceptive breeders," she explained.
A piglet like a puppy is adorable. Foolishly,
a lot of people thought they would stay small
forever. They don’t. Many “fad" pig owners
became desperate to rid themselves of a their
no longer cute, tiny piglets. Daria found friends
who shared her liking for the animal. One runs
a pot belly “Pig rescue" in Ojai. She couldn’tt
help bringing several of these "rescued"
animals back to her home to Old Agoura.
“Weegoo," her original pet, is all black,
with a pink snout and white hooves. ”Gocho"
is a black and white spotted pig. "Maybelline"
is all white with black eyeliner. "She's
a very glamorous pig. I have to put sunblock on
her in summer." “Tinkerbell" is all
black and her biggest at 250 pounds. And 'Tony"
is white and gray.
Daria described the character of her pigs to
me, and pigs in general. They're very bright.
They can open her refrigerator and pantry doors.
She has to keep the doors velcroed or latched
shut or they would help themselves. Her pigs are
housebroken, going in and out through their own
'They don't care what you think of them,"
she says. They're not eager to please you like
a dog. They don’t “come" on command.
Generally pigs eat and sleep, and sleep and eat.
They do like to “cuddle" but they won't come
to you. You have to go to them. They don't roll
over. They don't shake hands. They're not protective.
They won’t growl or grunt at strangers. They make
more of a “moof' sound. They squeal when they're
unhappy. It is not easy to walk a pig. "Not
unless you offer them lots of treats," Daria
"They're lazy and self willed." And,
of course, pigs don't fly. They don’t even jump.
So, I believe it is accurate to say that pigs
are 'piggish and pigheaded." But Daria loves
her pigs. "Some people can appreciate a human
being that has selfish qualities," she philosophizes.
"I can appreciate a pig. There's just something
wonderful about them."
Daria also has a dog, two parrots, and a husband.
Her life is not centered on her pig menagerie.
She is a nurse practitioner who performs clinical
trials of drugs for pharmaceutical companies.
She volunteers at the Conejo Free Clinic. And
early next year she will be going to India for
six weeks to pave the way for a special Program
where U.S. eye surgeons will operate to restore
the sight of a thousand people in one week.
Pigs have had a lot of bad p.r. We perceive them
as fat, selfish, demanding, bristle haired animals.
But I think all that will change if they have
more benevolent owners like Daria Schneidman.