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Swimming pig rescues drowning boy

By BETTY LUMAN

HOUSTON -- Priscilla the pig, an 'independent' porker who learned to paddle in a wading pool, rescued a mentally retarded boy drowning in Lake Somerville by swimming to safety as he held onto her collar.

'I never appreciated pigs until I got around her,' said the happy mother, Carol Burk. 'She's a beautiful pig.'

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Priscilla made the heroic swim a week ago Sunday on an outing to the lake with Ms. Burk and her 11-year-old son, Anthony Melton.

All three were in the water when the boy ventured out into deep water, she said.

'I told my son to stay back -- he didn't listen to me,' Ms. Burk said. 'Just as I was letting Priscilla go, he got out too far.

'He went down once, then he went down another time,' she said. 'I told him to catch hold of Priscilla's leash. Then they both went down. I thought, 'My God, I've lost them both.''

But Ms. Burk said Priscilla surfaced and managed to swim to shore, pulling Anthony behind her as he held onto her collar until his feet touched bottom.

'He was coughing and sputtering when I got to him,' she said. 'He was terrified and so was I.'

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Priscilla belongs to Victoria Herberta, a house painter and neighbor of Ms. Burke, who lives a few miles southwest of downtown Houston.

'I am just thrilled to death that she was able to do this,' said Ms. Herberta. 'She's very sensitive to human pain.'

Priscilla -- named for her 'prissy, very independent attitude' - is the 4-month-old daughter of Rocky, a former swimming pig at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, she said.

Ms. Herberta said she wanted Priscilla 'to follow in her dad's footsteps and learn to swim' so she has her own little wading pool.

Priscilla divides her time between the front porch and the pool, her owner said.

Ms. Herberta said her neighbors just 'adore' her 22-pound, pink pig. 'I walk her every evening around 7 o'clock, and all the kids in the neighborhood have to walk with me.

'She loves dog food, tuna fish sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and she loves to drink Mountain Dew,' said Ms. Herberta.

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