An overweight pot-bellied pig saved the life of her owner by summoning help in a most unusual and painful way when her owner, Jo Ann Altsman, of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, suffered a near fatal heart attack.
This is a heartwarming and incredible tale of animal loyalty and bravery that is certain to warm the hearts of animal lovers everywhere. Lulu the pot-bellied pig would have certainly been a smash on YouTube had her unselfish actions been recorded, but back in the late 1990s there was not yet such a phenomenon. She did meet Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman and appeared as a guest on both their shows. How many Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs can say that?
Lulu came up with a piggy plan when her owner suffered a heart attack
Jo Ann and Jack Altsman had agreed to baby-sit their daughter's pot-bellied pig, but this arrangement soon changed as Lulu stole their hearts and became a permanent member of the family along with Bear, their American Eskimo dog. This bond compelled Lulu to save her owner's life when she put her 'dead piggy in the road' plan to work one August afternoon when Jo Ann suffered a heart attack. There were no neighbors nearby, her husband was away on a fishing trip on Lake Erie and she was alone, save for the two animals living in her home. (See my artlcle on the homeless cat that saved an abandoned baby.)
Bear just barked and barked and Lulu knew she had to do something before it was too late. She made her way out of the vacation trailer squeezing through a doggie door that was too small for her, scratching her belly badly as she went. Never before had she ever left the yard, but today was different. She lay down in the road and waited. Several cars came by and just rode past her. (See my article on Orlando the Guide Dog.)
Twice more, Lulu went back to check on Jo Ann and then out again, badly scraping her already bleeding belly. Refusing to give up, she lay there until finally, after about forty-five minutes, one motorist stopped and got out of his car, concerned about her wounds. She perked up when she saw him, scrambled to her feet and began walking towards the trailer, leaving a trail of blood as she went. The caring motorist followed Lulu, found Jo Ann unconscious and quickly dialed 911. (See my article on Cat Guide Who Saved a Hiker in The Alps.)
Lulu saves the day
Lulu tried to get into the ambulance when the medics arrived but they gently prevented her from boarding. She came as close to crying as a pig can as she watched the medics take her beloved owner away. Jo Ann was rushed to the Beaver Medical Center where she underwent emergency open-heart surgery. Lulu's wounds were also attended to.
Lulu became a much-appreciated celebrity. In addition to being awarded the Tiffany gold hero's medal from the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Lulu graced the stages of both The Oprah Winfrey Show and David Letterman, where she grunted happily in lieu of signing autographs.
Unfortunately, Lulu wasn't healthy and weighed almost 350 pounds at her heaviest. Her owners spoiled her and fed her sweet ice treats in the summer and jelly donuts in the winter. This was done lovingly but caused an early death at the age of five to this amazing pig who ironically suffered a heart attack as her owner had done.
Pigs are misunderstood and underrated, as they make loyal, loving and very intelligent pets. Lulu's spirit has given true meaning to that old song, Lulu's Back in Town.
Rest in peace, sweet piggy.
See also: Bretagne