Some may call him a pet, but the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch considers Sir Sedgwick a companion.
Sedgwick is a pot-bellied pig who was donated to the Bend ranch about three months ago, a special addition to a non-profit that focuses heavily on veteran mental health.
“Even something like an animal who is just very caring and very wholesome towards you, it really stirs a lot of emotions and breaks barriers down,” Logan Wheeler, Central Oregon Veterans Ranch outreach and educations coordinator said. “It’s just a part of the magic we have of the sanctuary of the ranch, right? Is that we can slowly start to lower those guards down, bring in some positive emotions, get sweaty, get dirty with the pig. Whatever the case may be, but once those positive endorphins are flowing, that’s when we start to talk about our problems. That’s when we start to work through things together.”
He grunts and he begs for attention.
Not the personality you would expect out of a pig.
“It’s like having a dog,” Richard Magee, Central Oregon Veterans Ranch peer support specialist said. “When you come home and them being excited that you’re there.”
You would never know this happy hog has a history of his own, one that connects him and these local veterans on a deeper level.
“I do know that at one point Sedgwick had experienced something traumatic where some dogs kind of got loose,” Wheeler said. “So he has got what we would consider combat trauma like as veterans.”
Sedgwick is not considered a service animal, but many Central Oregon veterans see him as one.
“I mean I’ve had bad days and I come out here and I pet him and it just dissipates,” Magee said. “It just goes away.”
Magee was deployed to Afghanistan twice between 2008 and 2010, an experience that makes his bond with Sedgwick that much more meaningful.
“When I was deployed I had a big thing with animals. Stray dogs, cats, we took care of them. One day one of the first sergeants decided he didn’t want anymore animals, so we had to go around and get rid of them,” Magee said. “Dark dark time for me, so when I see animals it’s a very helpful thing for me in general to see animals happy. And to be the person to make them happy just makes me feel full.”
From the looks of it, that feeling is mutual.
“For us being here with him, that helps him,” Wheeler said. “Just because we’re here and we’re scratching his ears or rubbing his belly or whatever the case is. And for us it’s great because we’ve got a pig that we can hang out with, a pig that quite frankly understands what we’ve been through and one that just brings us a lot of joy.”
Best of all, when you are with Sedgwick, you are in a judgement free zone.
“It really means a lot to me, animals and this place,” Magee said. “I’m trying not to get emotional, this place saved my life. I’m not gonna lie.”
Sedgwick is more than a pig and more than a pet.
Here, he is family.