When Lowrie the piglet was born at Wester Quarff just over two weeks ago, he was half the size of his siblings and unable to stand up. Now, thanks to regular feeds of Carnation milk, he is not only putting on weight at amazing speed but has enough energy to meet the demands of the “celebrity” status he acquired almost the instant his story appeared on Facebook.
“I’m just looking for his bottle,” said Lowrie’s owner and foster mother Heather Davidson, when I phoned to find out more. “You can probably hear him grunting. He’ll be all right with me talking to you, though, as long as I pick him up and let him nuzzle a bit.”
Lowrie now sleeps for five to six hours a night, but when he was first born he needed a bottle every hour and a half.
“He would have died if I hadn’t looked after him,” said Heather. “He was only the size of my hand. He’s double that now, and is able to go outside with me. I’ve been planting trees, and he’s been playing in the earth and picking up stones.”
The coddling continues, nevertheless. At bedtime Lowrie is tucked into a basket with a hot water bottle and a woolly jumper. He also travels in his basket when he goes out to meet the public.
Heather and her friend Brenda Laurenson, who is Lowrie’s “PR” person, put Lowrie on Facebook “for a laugh” the Friday after he was born. By the following Monday he had 1,000 fans. Now he has over 3,000, including MP Alistair Carmichael.
“Mr Carmichael was Lowrie’s 1,600th fan,” said Heather. “Brenda spotted that he’d joined. It was absolutely brilliant.”
In spite of having a Liberal Democrat friend, Lowrie keeps his political leanings to himself.
He does, however, have opinions on other topics. Although his favourite film is Babe, he is of the opinion that the sequel Babe: A Pig in the City “wis a disappointment ta be honest”. When it comes to fiction he favours The Three Little Pigs, and he also enjoys The Shetland Times, which he classifies as “highbrow literature”.
Given Lowrie’s hectic schedule, though, there is little time for reading. In an action-packed first fortnight of life, Lowrie has featured in newspaper articles, appeared on the STV news, and been interviewed for Radio Scotland. “He had a lot to say,” said Hazel. “He just grunted and grunted and grunted.”
Lowrie has also put in appearances at various Shetland schools, and visited special needs departments. When I spoke to Hazel he was preparing for an engagement at Sound Primary, where they are studying Charlotte’s Web.
“When we are travelling I put his peerie basket on my knee,” said Hazel. “Although Lowrie likes meeting his fans, he is still most secure around me, and he squeals if anyone else tries to pick him up.”
Lowrie’s fame is not limited to Shetland. People from as far afield as the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Russia and Iceland have signed up to his Facebook page. The piglet’s PR department is busy replying to comments such as “oink”, and questions at to whether or not he plays in puddles.
A vegetarian himself, Lowrie has even inspired one fan to give up pork scratchings, though not everyone is quite so sentimental. The “S” word itself has not been mentioned, but there are some references to the deliciousness of hogs who have met a less happy fate.
Which brings one to the future, and the rumours that Hollywood beckons. Despite suggestions that Lowrie: The Movie could be in the offing, it appears that talk of a film career is more a means of avoiding discussing alternative scenarios.
“Lowrie is happy at present,” said Hazel. “When he is seven weeks old I plan to introduce him to his brothers and sisters, and I am hoping he will make friends with them. It will all depend on whether he thinks he is a pig or sees himself as a human being.”
In the meantime, does Lowrie have a message for his fans?
“Yes,” said Hazel. “He would like to thank everybody for their support. We are amazed that this situation has gone so mad, and we are wondering when the excitement is going to stop, but seeing the bairns’ faces when they meet Lowrie makes it all worthwhile. Oh look, he’s just fallen asleep with his tongue hanging out!”
BY CATHY FEENY