The Free Press regrets to announce that the grand old hog, Iggy Fitrakis, and his mischevious stepbrother, Winston Mogg-Way, both passed away in October at the age of 13. Both elderly men lived four years longer than most pet pot-bellied pigs and were the equivalent of 90-year-olds in swine years.

Free Press Editor Bob Fitrakis adopted Iggy as a young porker, small enough to fit in the palm of his hand. Bob immediately immersed Iggy in the world of social justice activism and politics as he volunteered the little guy in a “Kiss a Pig” contest for charity. During the Fitrakis for Congress campaign in 1992, Iggy sported a “Fight Back with Fitrakis!” T-shirt on a campaign commercial and his photo appeared in In These Times.

Bob and Iggy were inseparable, sporting around in the LeBaron convertible, visiting friends and walking in the park. Two memorable park moments were the time Iggy backed into the pond at Goodale Park – a few bubbles rose to the surface – then he emerged, pig-paddling until Bob could retrieve him, and the first day Iggy was let out of the basement in the spring and did a 360 degree pirouette in Franklin Park. Bob and Iggy had great adventures hiking up the overpass to Franklin Park and having to run down as a train came along, racing away from loose dogs in the park, and snouting for goodies in Alum Creek on “pig island.”

Iggy liked his Daddy’s attention and when Bob spent too much time yakking on the telephone, Iggy would snout the phone extension off the hook and oink into it.

Iggy’s exciting life included confronting burglars and taking holiday trips to Bob’s family’s house in Detroit. Unfortunately, he snouted a Speedo-wearing sun-worshipping condo neighbor. “Just looking for food,” Iggy explained. Soon Bob and Iggy were kicked out on the streets.

Iggy, Bob and Suzanne lived in a double where Iggy took to escaping regularly from the basement and chasing his Dad’s car to work. When Bob and Suzanne had to go away overnight, next door neighbor John Bannon became Iggy’s best friend and pig-sitter. Once in the alley, when two wild dogs started menacing Bob, Iggy bared his wild boar tusks, stood his spiky hairs on end and emitted a growl so unearthly the stunned pooches turned tail and ran. He always had his Daddy’s back.

After moving again to the house he lived in until last month, his parents adopted another piggie who was doomed to death row, Winston. When the stepbrother joined the family, Iggy was appalled that he had to share his home with that “creature.” The boys fought constantly, for territory and for food. But they peacefully shared their backyard with numerous stray cats, possums and other wildlife. One kitten, born in the pig house and abandoned by his mother, decided Iggy and Winnie were his parents and snuggled up to Iggy’s belly to stay warm.

Winston was a prancing pig who liked to be groomed and petted. Iggy listened to PBS and NPR most of his life and learned to speak English (he once very articulately and undeniably cursed). The pigs also built beds, tents and forts with porch furniture and tarps. Both boys loved belly rubs, watermelon and the next door neighbors who threw their extra produce over the wall and brought the pigs a fruit basket on several occasions. In their old age there seemed to be a truce between the hogs as they shared the back porch and kept each other awake with unbelievably loud snoring.

Iggy and Winnie were put to sleep when their physical bodies had completely worn out, but as angel pigs they are still with us. This column will continue on in Iggy’s name, written by “ghost writers” channeling his spirit and that of Winston -- carrying on, working for animal rights and peace.

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