Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Reading Group Activities
Sy Montgomery writes about Pig Spa, the hours of loving attention she and
her neighbors gave to Christopher Hogwood that were as soothing and therapeutic
for them as well as for the pig. Try your own version of Pig Spa with your own
Bring pictures of your pets to your next book gathering and discuss how they
have changed your lives.
Investigate volunteering at, or contributing to, local petting zoos or animal
charity operations. Sy Montgomery suggests The Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals or the Rainforest Conservation Fund. What other opportunities
can you find?
Plan a group fundraising activity such as a bake sale, garage sale, car wash, or
bike-a-thon to help local animal shelters. Make sure to involve neighborhood
Arrange for a representative of an animal care-facility, charity, or the park
service to be a guest speaker at your book club or school.
reading THE GOOD GOOD PIG make you feel differently about your
relationship to animals and the natural world? If you eat meat, for example, did
it make you question that? Or question other aspects of your lifestyle?
Sy Montgomery writes about the extended interspecies family that coalesces
around THE GOOD GOOD PIG, Christopher Hogwood. If you have a pet or pets, do
you think of the animal as a central part of your family unit, or as a kind of
appendage to it? In what ways does your pet affect the family dynamic?
Lavishing as much money and attention on any animal as the author did on
Christopher Hogwood is wasteful when there are human beings in need of
assistance. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
Do you think you would have enjoyed having Christopher Hogwood and Sy
Montgomery for neighbors? Why or why not?
We humans seem to have a love-hate view of pigs. On the one hand, there
are beloved and humorous fictional characters like Miss Piggy, Piglet, Porky,
Babe, and Wilbur. Yet at the same time, in many religions pigs are considered to
be unclean animals, and in common parlance, calling someone a pig is far from
a term of endearment. What do you think accounts for this divergence of views?
Do you feel a special connection to any particular kind of animal? If you
could be an animal for one day, which would you choose and why?
At the beginning of the previous century, most Americans still lived and
worked on farms and had close relationships with a variety of animals, both wild
and domesticated. Now only a minority of people in this country experiences a
close relationship with animals other than dogs, cats, and other familiar pets.
What affect do you think that has had on our sense of connection to the natural
world, both individually and as a society? Is it important to have that kind of
a connection? Why?
Consider this quote from St. Francis: Not to hurt our humble brethren is
our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher
mission: to be of service to them whenever they require it. What might this
service consist of? If St. Francis were alive today, how do you think he would
react to the animal testing of drugs and other products, livestock farming
practices, and the like?
What are your thoughts about the animal rights and animal welfare
movements? Are they following the advice of St. Francis or taking matters too
far? What can people do to make a difference in the way animalspets, livestock,
and wildare treated in our society?
Do animals possess inherent rights that human beings are morally
obligated to respect? If so, what is the source of these rights? Should animals
have legal or civil rights beyond what is currently accorded them?
Do animals have souls?
Is the hunting and killing of wild animals an important part of human
heritage that should be preserved?
The people of Sundarbans regard the local tiger population as
manifestations of the divine, and thus do not hunt the animals even when they
prey upon human beings. Montgomery finds much to admire in this attitude. Do you
agree with her? Why or why not?
There are many anecdotes reflecting the extraordinary, even uncanny,
sensitivity of animals toward the natural world and toward people. What examples
can you give from your own experience, and how do you explain them?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Ballantine Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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