Growing up Natasha Dominetto was surrounded by the love of pets. She knew she wanted to work with animals. Having trained for three years at Bicton College of Agriculture and being awarded two BTEC Diplomas, in Small Animal Care and a Farm and Exotic Animal Care at Distinction, Natasha had life changing experiences working on a variety of farms (commercial outdoor pig rearing farm, Great Potheridge farm lambing and fostering lambs, and a dairy farm), Wood Green Animal Shelters, West Midlands Safari Park and Cotsworld Wildlife Park, London Zoo Reptile House, kennels and catteries across the country as well as the RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary.
Two years at Berkshire College of Agriculture she graduated as an RCVS certified Veterinary Nurse. After 10 years of working in several veterinary clinics and hospitals across the country caring for domestic and wild animals, she left the Veterinary Nursing and enrolled onto DipHE Adult Nursing at Kingston University working part-time as an agency Health Care Assistant in nursing and elderly homes, hospitals, hospices and homes for people with learning challenges. Seeing plenty distresses on a daily basis, she realised it was the simple things in life which made a big difference to how people felt. Kind words, holding someone’s hand and spending a few minutes listening to them, was a better medicine than drugs for many people and this is what made her truly happy.
Owning a pet piggy was her husband’s dream for a few years however due to various family circumstances they had to postpone buying one. However, at the end of 2017, Natasha and her husband decided it was time to do this. As a former Veterinary Nurse and an Adult Human Nurse, she long to provide a Pet Therapy Service to vulnerable people in the community, and the idea of using their own pet pigs as Therapy Pigs started to become a reality.
The Pigfather was born, based on an Oscar-winning film “The Godfather”. All the pigs on the farm are derived from this film. They purchased their first two miniature pigs in March 2018, Mikey and Sunny
Corleone, and added the third pig Connie in April. Having a keen interest in training them they started searching for a suitable training program designed for pigs in the UK. Being unable to find such a program, they made the decision to search worldwide and came across the American Mini Pig Association who runs the Miniature Pig Therapy Pet Certification Training Program. They are now members of the Association and their pigs are enrolled and are all in training.
the Jupital had the opportunity to speak with Natasha and ask her some questions:
the Jupital: What advice might you offer others who might want to set up a pig farm?
“The most important advice when setting up a pig farm is to ask oneself: Do I love these animals? Do I have the time and patience to give them the best life they deserve? What is the purpose of the farm? Spend time researching and finding out as much as possible.”
the Jupital: What is the greatest reward of working at a pig farm?
“There are many rewards of working on a pig farm. For us, the greatest reward is seeing our animals flourish because of the love and patience we are showing them. From skittish piglets on their first arrival with us to becoming most loving, gentle and responsive piglets we ever hope for within a short few weeks. One of our piglets Mikey has now completed the first part of his training and is now certified as a Therapy Pig in Training! Sunny also is completing his first part of training within the next week.”
the Jupital: What are three interesting facts about pigs
“Firstly, mini pigs have straight rather than curly tails, unlike most other farm pigs. Their tails indicate their mood – if they wag them – the pigs are generally happy and relaxed. If the tail is positioned straight up the back – they are alarmed or alerted. Secondly, like other pigs, miniature pigs have a range of voice calls. They grunt when they are happy and also when they greet each other or someone they know and like; their call changes to squealing when they want something and are impatient. The call is different again when they are alarmed. And finally, mini pigs are extremely intelligent animals. They are willing to learn and are able to be taught to obey a variety of commands and perform tricks. A lot of patience and love are needed to achieve this and to have a well-balanced friendly and lovable piggy.”
Natasha and her husband are proud to be the first company in the UK who have embarked their pigs onto this specialist training, which involves a lot of socialization, acceptance of handling, learning various essential commands and good manners on the road to becoming Pet Therapy Pigs. As a family run business, they strive to provide an ethical, caring, professional and reliable Miniature Pig Visiting Service for their local communities and wider surrounding areas. With a background in animal studies, veterinary and human nursing and with decades of professional experience in the animal care industry and primary care, they are passionate about the service they offer.
From providing therapeutic interactions at specialist schools, hospices, homes for children with short lives to bringing our pigs for a one-to-one session for children with special needs, they aim to encourage positive mutual relationships between people and animals. Equally, their miniature pigs attend schools, nurseries, fares, assemblies, parties and any other events. Businesses also employ their services for their promotion or awareness events. Meeting close up their friendly, well behaved miniature pigs is a unique opportunity which attracts much attention, bringing more business through companies’ doors.
Their dream, however, does continue. “Within the next 2 or 3 years, they are planning to open a Farm Animal Sanctuary giving a loving home to unwanted or neglected farm animals. In fact, we have obtained a farm piglet which has been destined for the slaughterhouse, to give her a loving home, as a starting point towards our future aim. Katie is a Mangalitsa pig, commonly known as a Woolly pig, resembling a sheep, and we plan on training her to the same standards as all our miniature pigs.” smiles Natasha. To achieve this dream Natasha and her husband need public support to help raise enough funds to open the Farm Animal Sanctuary. Visit their webpage dedicated to support and fund their dream, The New Dawn Foundation.
For further information about The Pigfather please, visit: