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Pot-bellied pig wiggled his way into hearts

Lynn and Dan Simonson of Red Wing

Red Wing is a little less colorful since the loss of a local, four-legged celebrity.

Vietnamese pot-bellied pig Andrew Jackson died Sept. 14.  He was four years old.

"Everyone in town knew him," Dan Simonson said of his 250-pound pet, who took daily walks with Dan and his wife, Lynn Simonson. "Everybody would come up and pet him. Hundreds of people would stop and ask if they could take his picture."

"I joked with my co-workers and family that I could have sat there and sold tickets to see Andrew," said Katie Carlson, a summer employee at Colvill Park in Red Wing where Andrew would sometimes walk.  "At times, it seemed like they wanted to see Andrew more than they wanted to be on the playground. They’d come for the pig and leave."

Andrew certainly made the rounds. He visited the Red Wing Health Center to cheer up patients. He was the ring bearer in a pig-themed wedding. Surrounded by dogs, he stole the show during the blessing of the animals ceremony at St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. 


And, his name will forever be associated with a city ordinance allowing Red Wing residents to keep miniature Vietnamese potbellied pigs as pets.

Despite the fame, Andrew most loved his family and food — particularly apples and popcorn. Sprawled out in the family's Ford Focus hatchback, he relished car rides and "went everywhere" with his owners.  A trip through the Lake City Burger King drive-thru for a side salad was not uncommon. 

"Someone would always give him a french fry through the window," Lynn said. 

Andrew was known to munch an occasional candle and hide the evidence behind the couch.  "He just liked wax," said Lynn. Child-proof locks were used to keep Andrew's snout away from bars of soap and bottles of shampoo.


Andrew had an unfair advantage when playing hide-and-seek at home with Lynn, who would hide in the same spot so he knew where to find her. 

And she spoiled him when leaving for work as a kindergarten aide at Sunnyside Elementary School. She would tuck his stuffed pig toys and peanuts around the house for him to find. Andrew's nickname was Peanut.

Lynn told Peanut she loved him "at least 10 times a day." And she says that he would hum it back, especially after he'd been tucked into his bed of blankets and pillows at the foot of their bed.



"My wife was so attached to him," said Dan. "He just had a real special bond with her."


So much so that Dan recalls coming home late from his shift — he is the Red Wing Fire Department Captain and a paramedic — and periodically finding Andrew stretched out on his side of the bed next to Lynn, head on pillow and covers pulled up to his chin.

"It's so hard. He was just too young," said a tearful Lynn. A typical lifespan of a domestic pot-bellied pig is 12 to 18 years.


Andrew developed chronic shoulder pain in early September, and his mobility became increasingly problematic.  

"He was being a tough pig, but it just got to the point where he couldn't make another trip outside," said Lynn.


His owners decided to have Andrew euthanized at home.

"I just told him I loved him," said a choked-up Dan. "That it was OK."

Andrew was cremated the following day. His ashes were placed in an urn with his photograph on the outside.

"When we'd come home, he'd run to the top of the steps and just wait," Dan said. "For the last four years, he's been such a part of our lives. The house is very quiet."

"Pigs really do love with their hearts," Lynn said, adding that hers has been broken.

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