It’s a sight to behold – pigs taking a walk on a canal towpath — but for Mabel and Betsy it’s a well trodden path.
However, one of the resident pigs at the Waves Centre in Slaithwaite had to miss out on her latest picturesque walk – because she’s outgrown her harness.
Kunakuna pigs Betsy and Mabel take frequent trips along the canal towpath as part of their exercise regime but the portly pigs have put a little too much weight on lately.
Ben Wright, managing director at the Waves Centre, a day care provision for adults with additional needs, said: “We try to take them out a few times a year but they’ve just grown and outgrown their harnesses.
“I’ve made a new harness but they really need padding so we’re looking at the options.
“We only take the pigs a short walk, a few hundred metres a time, but add in how slow the pigs walk, the time they stop to eat and stopping to chat to people and it can take an hour and a half. But our members love it.
“We do get some double takes, people look and expect to see a dog, but it’s great because it introduces Waves to people, and the pigs get some exercise.
“From our point of view it’s important for our members at the centre because they’ve been looked after and cared for all their lives and it’s nice for them to do the caring themselves.
“And they certainly enjoy looking after them.”
Poor Betsy had to miss out on her latest walk but Mabel enjoyed the short trip with her new harness, stopping to munch on leaves and grass.
The duo have a special licence to walk along the towpath. Regulations introduced after the foot and mouth outbreak meant animals with a cloven hoof need a licence to be transported. A walk is classed as transportation.
Ben added: “We had to submit a route that we will take the pigs on and the society which registers them checked that no other pigs covered that route.
“We walk along the canal in the direction of Marsden and back again.
“We try to take them a couple of times a year, it depends on the weather and having the right kit.”
Betsy and Mabel are firm favourites at Waves, which also has chickens, a chinchilla, guinea pigs, a rabbit, tropical fish, a bearded dragon, a tortoise, a tarantula and lovebirds.
The duo will never be food, but some of the chicken’s eggs are used for food and some are hatched to become chicks.
Waves has 100 members who travel to the canalside facility from all over Huddersfield, some parts of Calderdale as well as Oldham. There are 31 members of staff assisting them.