United States (Reuters / CBS Newspath) -- With this Lunar New Year ushering in the Year of the Pig, there is extra reason for a group of pig pet owners to feel proud of their prized porkers in the Colorado.
While pigs are among the most populous large mammals in the world, it may be surprising that they have also become quite popular as pets in recent years.
Animal lovers know there is nothing quite like being reunited with your favorite animal, and this was a feeling recently shared by pig owner Meryl Noyes. She had planned to move out of the state but shelved original plans to put her beloved pig Princeton up for adoption, with the two now back together again.
"It's really great to see him. I'm really excited to bring him home," said Noyes.
Erin Brinkley-Burghardt and her husband Andrew run Hog Haven Farm, a non-profit pig sanctuary in Colorado, with Erin describing herself as an avid pig lover.
Their part rescue, part adoption business has taken off in the past few years, with the farm now having 98, mostly potbellied mini-pigs, on site.
"They make really good companion animals. They're very affectionate, they're very smart. You can train them to use a litter box. You can train them to use a dog door. They're wonderful pets," said Brinkley-Burghardt.
Pigs have always been considered primarily as farm animals and some of them are simply too large to be house pets. But the big beasts got the chance to strut their stuff at the Denver Stock Show's recent Swine Showmanship competition. The show attracted a huge entry list, with a lottery determining which pigs got in.
Many children were also present and took center stage as they displayed their pigs. Among them were the Kelley family from California, who wanted their daughter Madison to gain experience of showing off livestock.
"We said you know what let's get her a pig, small animal, low investment and let's see how she does with it. And then we'll figure it out from there. And it just took off," said Madison's mother Laura.
"You have to work with them every day, wash them, to get them trained to do what you want to make your life easier at the end of the day," Madison said.
For the passionate pig lovers, there's no one doubting the charm of their beloved creatures.
"I would say that they have the personality pretty much like a toddler. They can be funny, they can get into stuff. They're very charming when they're well socialized. If you like to sit on the couch and watch Netflix, pigs are probably a good animal for you to have. The downside would be they're very stubborn. Their squeals can reach 115 decibels. Ear plugs are a good thing as a pig owner," Brinkley-Burghardt said.
"I mean every year here is Year of the Pig. I'm down with that," she added with a smile.