ANDOVER, Mass. — Thanks to a 1,000-pound pig that has an excellent nose, a keen mind and a kind heart, Gumbo, a 6-year-old cat that suffered second-degree burns in a horrible barn fire, is expected to survive and return to his loving owners in Bedford, N.H.
Besides the 14 horses that perished, Harriet Finks and her daughter Elissa Finks initially thought their three cats had also died in the fire. Miss Colby, their 9-year-old pet pig, however, let them know that Gumbo had survived.
The morning of Sept. 9, Miss Colby headed for the wreckage of the barn, which was her home before the fire. Then she made a sudden detour to a pile of rocks.
"We had no idea where she was going," Harriet Finks said. Then Elissa heard Gumbo's distinctive meow.
All four of his paws, both ears and one side of his body were burned — but he was still alive. The Finkses took him to Andover Animal Hospital.
Dr. Kimberly Wadsworth recently performed debriding surgery on Gumbo, cleaning and flushing out his wounds. He was sedated during the procedure, she said.
The bandages on his paws must be changed each day and Gumbo wears a cone-shaped Elizabethan collar to prevent him from biting his wounds.
He's fed a special prescription diet and receives fluids as well as medicine to ease the pain, Wadsworth said.
Despite the ordeal, Gumbo appears to be taking everything in stride. He will remain at the Andover Animal Hospital until he recovers, which could take a few more weeks, Wadsworth said.
Meanwhile, Gumbo's sister, Gidget, was also found after the fire. "She was in the woods for 13 days," Harriet Finks said. Gidget suffered burns, but not as bad as her brother.
Miss Colby, by the way, was never destined to be turned into ham, bacon and pork. Harriet Finks bought her as a pet.
Pigs, she said, are intelligent animals and actually have a more acute sense of smell than dogs. Thanks to Miss Colby's snout, Gumbo is going to make it.
Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.