The pig living in a central Ohio house grows to 180 pounds, raids the refrigerator and learns how to bite through soda cans.
If it sounds like fiction, it is. But the story springs from fact.
In 1994, Dispatch columnist Mike Harden wrote about a rapidly growing piglet living with the Razgaitis family of Upper Arlington.
Jodi Razgaitis – now Jodi Kendall — was 14 then. Today, she is 37, lives in New York City, and is the author of a recently published children’s novel, “The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City” ($16.99, Harper, 325 pages).
The novel is inspired by the real pig, which was brought home by Kendall’s older brother, Rich. He was a college student who was visiting a farm when he spied a tiny piglet getting muscled aside by stronger siblings in the competition to nurse. He impulsively decided to rescue it. The piglet, named Elly, ended up living in a small room off the family’s kitchen in late November 1993.
The family house-trained the pig, but Kendall’s parents were still eager to get it into more appropriate surroundings.
“I would like it gone by nightfall,” her father, Richard, told Harden in the January 1994 column.
By then, Elly had acquired a range of skills, including opening the refrigerator.
“She liked to bite down on soda cans, and she’d make them explode and then suck out all the soda,” Kendall said.
The column by Harden, who died in 2010, brought forth no pig adopters. But a veterinarian friend of the family eventually connected the Razgaitises to a Marysville farm owner who accepted Elly, by then nearing 200 pounds, in April.
Kendall said she would like to think the pig lived happily ever after, although she doesn’t know for sure.
The family moved to New Jersey when Kendall was in high school. She studied English and creative writing in college and has written for a range of magazines and websites.
“The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City,” her first novel, follows an 11-year-old girl’s struggles to save a pet pig in the midst of learning to cope with her large family and her burgeoning adolescence. The book is aimed at ages 8 to 12.
Kendall, who is a vegan and an animal advocate, is working on a sequel following the girl on further adventures.
Her family has many memories, some happy, of sharing a home with a pig, Kendall said. Elly learned to shoot a foam basketball through a hoop and became a neighborhood attraction.
The pig left for the farm on the 50th birthday of Kendall’s mother, Carol.
“She said it was her greatest present ever.”
Joe Blundo is a columnist for the Columbus Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joeblundo.