The phrase "eats like a pig" comes into play in this story...
The summer of 1997 was the first summer we had the pigs, and that was the summer Charlotte went nuts eating mesquite beans.  There are mesquite trees all over our property, and in the summer, they drop lots of beans.   The other pigs ate them too, but certainly not to the extent Charlotte did: she ate them day and night and I don't think she had a good night's sleep for several days in a row.
Pigs eat the beans pods and all, of course, and I believe they ultimately caused an intestinal obstruction.  Charlotte was quite uncomfortable, was not producing anything from the nether end, and was very lethargic.  Intestinal obstructions can, of course, be fatal, so we called the vet.
At the time, there was a grand total of one vet in the area who did house calls to treat pigs, and she was on a well-deserved vacation.   Transporting a pig of Charlotte's size is next to impossible, and in any case, I couldn't find anyone who would treat her in a clinic.  Pigs are difficult to handle and difficult to treat, so a lot of vets won't mess with them.  One vet earned my eternal enmity by casually telling me that he didn't treat pigs because they "annoyed" him.  Yes, they are difficult patients, but I sure wouldn't let an animal suffer and die because I found it "annoying!"
After trying every vet in the phone book, we realized Charlotte's treatment was in our hands.  I sent Chris to the store to buy a Fleet's enema, and he got an odd look from the store clerk when he felt compelled to blurt out, "It's for my pig!"  We gave Charlotte the enema, but nothing much happened.  
I started giving her a combination of vegetable oil and a laxative by syringe every hour or so, and after several hours - which seemed like an eternity - it worked:  the blockage loosened and passed.  What a relief for everyone involved!  We really had been thinking she wasn't going to make it.


The following summer, we tried to rake up and throw away as many mesquite beans as we could, but with 2.5 acres of land and mesquite trees all over, it was a daunting task.  We kept a sharp eye on Charlotte and were pleased to see that she ate the beans in moderation.  She has done so ever since, so apparently she learned a lesson.

Our pig vet now has a partner, thank goodness, so if anything like this ever happens again, we are a lot less likely to have to treat it ourselves and hope for the best.


Toward the end of October, our newest dog, Lily, started barking incessantly at Charlotte.  Up until then, she'd been quite good with the pigs, so we wondered what her problem was.  She didn't bother Arnold and Charlie at all:  just Charlotte.  We had to give her several "time outs" over it.  As it turned out, Lily apparently sensed that something was wrong with Charlotte, even though Charlotte wasn't showing any symptoms of illness or acting odd in any way.

I arrived home from work on Friday evening, October 24, to find Chris frantically trying to call the pig vet.  He had come home to find Charlotte hemorrhaging blood from her vagina.  By the time I got home, the bleeding had mostly stopped, but she'd lost an alarming amount of blood and was quite weak.

There are only two vets in our area who will treat anything larger than a miniature pot-bellied pig, and the vet on call was not available for several hours.  Luckily for us, she checked her messages when she got home and gave us a call back.  Realistically, however, there wasn't a lot she could do even if she came out.  She was fairly certain Charlotte had a tumor in her uterus, as this is a common problem with unspayed female pigs.  Since Charlotte didn't seem to be in any pain or distress, we opted to give her some time to produce new red blood cells, then when she was stable, transport her to a clinic and do surgery to remove the tumor.  We all feared that any immediate treatment would probably kill her.

I gave Charlotte fluids orally every two hours, since she was weak and wasn't taking much fluid in on her own.  For a while, it looked like she was perking up a bit, but when I went out to give her fluids mid-morning on Monday, I found she had died.  It looked like she had just fallen asleep.  

We certainly had not expected this to happen, since Charlotte was the youngest of our pigs and appeared to be in good health.  She was not spayed because she was already full-grown when her original owner found her, and no one would do a spay on an adult pig because it is a difficult and risky surgery.  As it turned out, not doing it was pretty risky, too.

Charlotte had such a strong personality that her absence leaves a giant void.