On a typical day, it's not uncommon to see people walking their dogs downtown. One new resident has caused Mount Dora to expand its definition of typical.
Frasier, a clean and feisty little pink pig, is frequently spotted walking on Donnelly with his good-natured owners, Mike and Natalie Hassler.
Their walks are anything but leisurely. Frasier, wearing a leash, rockets down the sidewalk at the first opportunity with Mike struggling to keep up (see video). After expending his bottled up energy, the young pig slows to nibble on acorns and entertain fascinated onlookers. Then, without warning, he rockets off again. Since pigs don't sweat to cool themselves, Frasier relaxes in his plastic pool and bobs for carrot slices once he returns home (see video).
Frasier's role at home is that of comedian, toddler and snuggle buddy. Grunts and squeals fill the house as the 6 month-old makes his presence known. As if his boisterous sounds weren't enough, Frasier is quick to give unrelenting nudges with his snout when demanding someone's attention.
The couple purchased the Pot-bellied pig from a South Florida pet store before moving to Mount Dora a few months ago. They quickly realized their new pet is smart, stubborn and insatiably curious. Bribery is the most effective method to gain his cooperation. Carrots and peanuts are the currency of choice.
The Hasslers are avid animal lovers and very experienced pet owners. Their parrot, hedgehog and bearded dragon, didn't present the same challenges and surprises that Frasier brought.
"The biggest surprise for us was how affectionate he is. He loves to cuddle with us on the couch and sit on our laps," said Natalie.
Pot-bellied pigs originated in Vietnam and the domesticated breed ranges in size from 100 to 300 pounds which is significantly smaller than American farm pigs. Frasier is a hybrid micro Pot-bellied pig and will only grow to 30 pounds and ten to twelve inches tall.
Although Frasier is lightning fast, there is no way for the Hasslers to walk him in a hurry. It's not due to Frasier's affinity for acorns, but rather strangers' affinity for him. Fortunately, the couple is enjoying their new city and the friendly people Frasier has introduced to them.
Editor's note: The day after writing this story another local Pot-bellied pig, Dozer, was spotted with his owners Tai and Jerry.
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Above: Mike and Frasier on the streets of Mount Dora. Below: Frasier's pool time. Watch video.
Above: Frasier and Achoo, his hedgehog housemate. Below: Mike is taken for a run.
Above: Dozer, another Mount Dora Pot-bellied pig with owners Tia and Jerry.