TAMPA (FOX 13) - From their cute pink snouts to their big red bows, it is hard not to go hog wild for the adorable duo: Thunder and Bolt.
They are pigs with a purpose. Two pets turned therapy swine; and they recently made their debut outside Tampa General Hospital as therapy pigs.
“The second they see the pigs -- they don't even have to do anything -- their faces light up,” said Hometown Hero, Claire Barrow.
10-year-old Claire is in charge of Thunder and Bolt and knows how tough it can be to be cooped up in a hospital. She was just two years old when her mom was pregnant with her brother and on complete bed rest. She also remembers how excited she got when therapy dogs came to visit.
“Ever since she was little, she always connected with the animals in the hospital,” said Claire’s mom, Heather Barrow.
Now, Claire is back at the same hospital that cared for her mom, this time paying it forward, with two twirly-tailed pigs in tow.
“She wakes up every morning before school at 5 a.m. She feeds them, changes their litterbox, and does her morning tricks with them. She has put the time and energy in and it has really paid off,” said Heather.
Claire feeds them, trains them, and takes care of all their piggly-wiggly needs. She’s so good at it, her family nicknamed Claire the pig-whisperer.
“It's actually not that hard. They learned to sit, spin, and stay in under an hour, which was amazing,” said Claire.
Thunder and Bolt are leash trained and use a litter box to take care of their bathroom business. Claire even taught them how to ring a bell for a treat.