This little piggy went to the firehouse!
Ever since her trusty human companion, FDNY firefighter Darren Harris, brought her to Engine 239 earlier this summer, Penny — an adorable, three-month-old teacup pig — has been raising the spirits of Park Slope residents and first responders alike.
Harris, who works at the firehouse on Fourth Avenue, adopted the piglet from a farm in Virginia because his six-year-old daughter is afraid of dogs.
According to Harris, Penny is like a dog and cat combined — she loves cuddling with his daughter, running around with the family, and she’s even potty-trained!
Most of the time, Penny gets to frolic on vast, green pastures in upstate New York, where Harris lives. But when dad goes to work in the “Big City” twice each week, Penny comes along for the ride.
“I knew she would be a breath of fresh air at work and home,” Harris told Brooklyn Paper. “When I first brought her to work, all the guys immediately loved her and excepted her as part of the house. They Facetimed their families showing our new addition.”
Ever since, the piglet has put smiles on the faces of the firefighters, who have one of the most stressful jobs in the country.
“With our hectic jobs, it’s nice to have someone we can bond over, and she been a help emotionally and raised spirits around the firehouse,” said Harris, who has been with the FDNY for eight years.
Now, Penny is one of “the guys” — she hangs out with Harris and his crew in the kitchen, enjoying belly rubs or a quick chase through the firehouse — and the firefighters treat her as such, explaining that they stopped eating pork out of solidarity.
“We didn’t even eat that much pork, to begin with,” Harris said. “But when we got Penny, we were like, ‘we can’t, it’s just wrong, we can’t.'”
When the engine goes on a call, Penny is safely tucked into her pet carrier and waits in the house call until the firefighters return. Sometimes, Harris said, she comes along for a ride, depending on the job.
“You don’t always get to see a pig in Brooklyn,” said Harris’ co-worker, Joe. “She brings the community together. Everybody gets to come by, and the kids love her. It brings a smile to everybody’s face.”
And Penny clearly loves the attention she receives from the community. She often wags her little pink tail in excitement as passersby take a second look when they see her.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said out-of-towner Helen Edelman, who was wandering through the neighborhood Thursday morning, Aug. 26, when she spotted Penny. She wondered if all FDNY stations had pet pigs.
“It’s great,” said Edelman, while feeding Penny her favorite snack, Cheerios. “Everyone loves pigs.”
For Harris, having Penny running around the firehouse isn’t only about lifting his co-workers’ spirits. Penny has captured the hearts of the firefighters and community alike, creating a special bond between the ladder and its neighbors.
“I think it’s revamping the community,” Harris said. “We get to meet the children and families we serve and connect with them over a unique animal they don’t see every day.”
He pointed out that now, the kids get to check out the fire truck and have a chance to meet and pet a live pig.
“It’s a sight to see,” Harris said. “They sit in a circle, and everybody pets her. Most of the city kids have never seen a pig. I ask them, ‘How does the nose feel? How does her fur feel?’ They love it.”
When asked if Harris was planning on getting a companion for Penny, who has her own Instagram account, he laughed and said, “Every day, she surprises me with something new. So I’m still working on this one.”