Mu Shu the rescued pig now helps teach kids

11/23/2012 10:20 AM

11/23/2012 10:24 AM

When we left you last April, Mu Shu the piglet was living happily with her best friend, a yellow Labrador retriever named Hunter, on five acres outside Newton.

She was recovering from injuries she received when she fell out of the back of a livestock truck on U.S. 50 in March. Luckily for her, it wasn’t just anyone who picked her up from the side of the road. It was Stacie Tonn, who loves animals and happens to be married to a veterinarian, Shane Tonn. They nursed Mu Shu back to health.

Now Mu Shu is teaching children about livestock and agriculture. Mu Shu is living at the Walton Rural Life Center, a charter school in Walton, with other farm animals.

“The kids are primarily responsible for taking care of Mu Shu,” Stacie Tonn said. “They will breed her, learn about gestation, birth and how to care for the piglets.”

Mu Shu weighs about 300 pounds now and is still best friends with Hunter, who plays with the pig as if she were another dog.

“And she hasn’t forgotten me,” said Stacie Tonn, who visits Mu Shu once or twice a month. “She still knows the sound of my truck. When I pull up to her pen, she will pop out with excitement. She knows she’s going to get snacks.”

Walton Rural Life Center uses project-based learning at its school, which serves 167 students in kindergarten to fourth grade.

Natise Vogt, the school’s principal, said the campus includes multiple gardens, a greenhouse, a wind turbine, a chicken coop and a barn with a mini donkey, two sheep, two longhorn cows, nine piglets, two goats and 15 chickens.

“The students use the animals to learn responsibility,” Vogt said in an e-mail.

The school’s two kindergarten and two first-grade classes are in a 4-H group, Heritage Harvesters, and are taking care of Mu Shu, said kindergarten teacher Rhonda Roux.

“Pigs are our biggest project,” Roux said, adding that students take care of feeding Mu Shu and maintaining her pen.

“If she stays healthy, we are thinking of breeding her and having a litter of piglets,” Roux said in an email.

The school is popular and has a waiting list for new kindergarten students through 2017.

“It’s great for Mu Shu,” Stacie Tonn said of the school.

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