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by Abigail Van Buren

Petunia the Contrite Pig Now Smells Like a Rose

DEAR ABBY: My name is Petunia, and I am the pot-bellied pig who was featured in your Oct. 14 column in the letter from my neighbor who signed herself "Peeved at Petunia in Elgin, Okla." I would like to tell my side of the story.

I have lived with my owner since I was 1 month old. I am now a year and a half. I consider myself to be a neighborhood pig. I live on a dead-end road out in the country, and my owner would let me out every morning and I would go visiting. I have eight neighbors, plus four horses and various cows, and I would call upon them during the day and meet my owner at home at 4:30 every afternoon when she returned from work.

People would tell her about feeding me and how much they enjoyed me, especially the families with kids. I did venture across the highway into town once, but that ended very badly. I spent the night in an outdoor dog pound with big, scary, barking dogs all around. That certainly won't happen again.

As to the charges that I chewed the roots of my neighbors' melon vines and strawberry plants -- I was framed. One neighbor who thought I had been tearing up her yard and flowerbed told my owner a few weeks ago that she had caught an armadillo in her front yard, rooting it up. She said there had been two of them staying under an empty trailer across the road.

In my defense, I think the armadillos were partly to blame for the destruction of the strawberry plants. Yes, I love berries and melon, but I don't destroy plants and roots. It is a sad day in a pig's life when we have to stoop to eating roots. That armadillo visited during the night and destroyed the plants, and when I made my usual early morning rounds, I was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My owner is a conscientious pet owner and tries to be a good neighbor. If anyone had complained about me, she would have kept me in the house, but no one did. When "Peeved" (who usually fed me biscuits) called my owner one night and said I had destroyed her melons and berries, that was the end of my freedom. I was under house arrest. I was introduced to my first leash and harness, and my owner called the fence company the next day. We were put off by three fence companies for a month, and finally, the third fence guy came out and fenced the back yard. I have not been out on my own since the complaint, with the exception of one time when I created an escape route -- which my owners promptly plugged.

I apologize for the problems I caused, but with my fence and leash, it won't happen again. (And someone needs to pull that armadillo in for questioning.) -- INCARCERATED IN ELGIN, OKLA. (A.K.A. PETUNIA)

DEAR INCARCERATED (A.K.A. PETUNIA): Your apology is accepted, and now that you have your own turf, everyone hopes your wandering days are over. Don't think of it as false imprisonment; think of it as a permanent alibi.

DEAR ABBY: Add this to your collection of random acts of kindness:

A boy in our town had three kidney transplants; two failed, the third was successful. When he was at his sickest, the local florist decorated his hospital room.

One might have expected flowers, balloons or a fruit basket, but the florist contacted some of the boy's favorite sports teams who sent him autographed pictures and posters. He probably still doesn't know who was responsible.

This happened several years ago, and the young man is doing very well and is a blessing to all who know him. -- PROUD IN PENNSYLVANIA

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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