With deep sadness, I had to help Sherman, my potbellied pig, cross the Rainbow Bridge on June 18, 2019. His birthday was June 17 and he was 17 years old. I tragically learned he had many lymphoma tumors throughout his body and we think the cancer had spread to his brain.

Our journey in enriching people’s lives with such a wonderful unique animal as Sherman is inspiring beyond words. I still remember the day I visited the nursing home in Phillipsburg and Sherman was showing off his tricks and letting a gentleman pet him. I could see a smile from ear to ear; the man had one hand closed tightly. He kept smiling and wanted to tell me what he had in his one hand. He slowly opened his hand to reveal a little silver pig charm. He told me that was his lucky charm for 25 years and seeing Sherman was the highlight of his day.

Another one that stands out in my memory is a visit at Brakely in Oxford, NJ. I would always knock on the client’s door and ask if they would like a visit with my pet pig. This gentleman was facing the window, hunched over; he slowly turned around and said, “Sure, come on in.” As we talked and Sherman showed his tricks, the man’s mood was turning around from being sad to a happier state. We had to end our visit, and he said to me, “Hey, I wanted to tell you thank you so much. I was having a bad day but you coming in and taking the time to visit me and not even knowing me made my day.”

Sherman had a big impact on many people’s lives throughout his 15 years as a therapy animal. Sherman was a star with his non-stop devotion in educating people about potbellied pigs at pet expos and visits at nursing homes and children’s events. He has been in many articles and on TV. He even did a fundraiser for Pet Partners with Isabella Rossellini in New York in 2012. He did a local event this past May for a school and two expos earlier this year and although he had arthritis, that did not get him down and he just loved to interact with as many people as he could. He is a legend and even at 17 years old kept active and kept people smiling until the end.

In any situation he was in, he would handle very nicely and eagerly wait by my side for our next mission, putting many smiles on people’s faces and enriching people’s lives with his unique character and with his many tricks he liked to show off. He will be dearly missed and but his memory will live on forever in the hearts of the people he has touched.

Sherman was my rock and support and never left my side since he was born. With the loss of my fiancé in 2011 from cancer, Sherman was there for me as well as for other people in aiding with emotional support. I am so honored to have owned, trained, and loved such a wonderful pet. And I was so blessed and honored to be his partner. Because that is what it is when you enter the Therapy Animal Program: You become a team and the people that you visit see this. They were inspired by our relationship. I will always cherish his memory deep in my heart and smile when people tell stories of him. Because his memory will live on in others that he has touched as well.

Story submitted by Priscilla Merta