Alicia Wynkoop of Woodburn admits that she spoils her "boys" Dexter and Winslow. They love to eat, and she sheepishly says it’s been difficult for her to put them on a diet.She fondly recalls holding them in her lap when she got them on Aug. 9, 2014. They were only four weeks old, had just begun to eat solid food and weighed under 20 pounds each. Her "boys", Dexter and Winslow, are Kune-Kune pigs (pronounced Cooney-Cooney) who quickly progressed from wiggly house pets to permanent outdoor dwellers. They’re now approaching 300 pounds each.
She and her significant other, Chad Wickesberg, decided they were no longer house pets when the twosome figured out how to open cabinet doors and got into cereal boxes and other food. They were six months old and topped the scales at 50 pounds.
The lovable pigs are becoming local celebrities. The postwoman often stops to treat them with apples. So does a trucker from Love’s Travel Stop up the road at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Indiana 101. The next door neighbor regularly tosses tomatoes and other vegetables over the fence to the pair and in return, he uses their manure on his garden."They love all kinds of fruits and vegetables," says Wynkoop, "but won’t touch green peppers or lettuce. They push it out of their bowls with their noses. Tomatoes and pumpkins are favorites and when they get a watermelon they devour the fruit, seeds and the rind. When not relishing fruits and vegetables, they consume the grass in their 10-by-30-yard enclosure. I often let them out of the fence when I’m working in the yard and they’ll wander into the cornfield behind the house in search of a stray ear that was missed during harvesting."
Before getting them, Wynkoop researched on the Internet and came up with the Kune-Kune breed primarily because their hair doesn’t produce a lot of dander, to which Chad is violently allergic. She located a breeder in Illinois and was put on a waiting list. They got a call from the breeder six months later and went to choose two from the liter of six.
"Just like an expectant mother, I had a 12-page list of names. As soon as I saw them I knew they were Dexter and Winslow. This breed of pigs," she explained, "originated in Asia and showed up in New Zealand in the 1800s. They’ve been domesticated for centuries. In the 1990s they were near extinction.
"They’re very lovable and affectionate and are quite smart. We took them to dog obedience training when they were still small enough to fit in the car and they picked it up quickly. They learned to sit, beg on their hind feet, give a kiss on the cheek, spin and twirl and respond to their names. They’re also potty trained. We always carry treats and they love to have their bellies rubbed. We even took them to Shoaff Park on Sundays when they were little for walks in the dog area. They seemed to fit right in and the dogs didn’t mind at all.
"Dexter and Winslow have very different personalities. Dexter is the alpha pig. He’s obedient, patient, learns quickly and stays out of trouble. Winslow, however, is a real ‘smarty pants’. He’s impatient, slower to learn but when he gets it, he has it forever. He’s the one who figured out how to open the cabinets when they were little and if there’s any trouble to get into, he’s the one leading the way."
The "boys" are fed once a day before Wynkoop leaves for work in the morning, and they head for the gate when they see her return in the evening, hoping for treats and a belly rub. They sleep on a bed of straw in a 10-by-10-foot metal shed, and their snoring can be heard in the house. When temperatures drop below freezing in the winter, a space heater keeps them warm, and heated dog bowls keep their water from icing. Most of the time, they just snuggle together.
Wynkoop, who has had a pig obsession since she was a kid in Fort Wayne, has pig statues throughout the house, pig pictures on the walls, pig salt and pepper shakers, pig coffee mugs, pig cookie jars and pig placemats. She’s also into owls on the same level.
"I really enjoy having the pigs," she says, "and refer to myself as their 'mom.' They’re easy to care for and they return my affection. They’re kind of like having two 3-year-olds forever."