On the morning of 4 August, 1998, Jo Ann Altsman suffered a heart attack while vacationing in the north woods of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, USA. Alone1, apart from the family dog Bear (who did nothing but bark at Jo Ann after she collapsed and tried to summon help by breaking a bedroom window of the mobile home), she lay on the floor yelling:
Somebody help me! Please help me! Call an ambulance!
Jo Ann, who had had a heart attack just 18 months earlier, was panic stricken. Another member of the Altsman 'family' was at hand though. LuLu, a housebroken Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig came to Jo Ann's aid. The pig was bought as a 40th birthday present for the Altsmans' daughter, Jackie, a year earlier. Going whale-watching for her birthday, Jackie asked her parents to babysit LuLu until she returned. It became apparent over the next few months that Jackie didn't really want LuLu, remarking to her parents she'd pick up her new pet:
Next weekend, next weekend.
The Altsmans soon became attached to LuLu, even as the piglet gained weight from a smallish 4 pounds to a more porcine 150. It was lucky however, that Jack and Jo Ann Altsman chose to keep the animal.
The Rescue Pig
LuLu took one look at Jo Ann and after 'crying2' for a moment, crashed through the doggy/piggy door of the mobile home and into the fenced-in yard. Lulu had never left the confines of the yard (except for a walk on a leash), but somehow she managed to push open the gate to get to a nearby road.
Witnesses reported that LuLu would wait until a car approached, then calmly walk out into the road and lay down in front of the oncoming vehicle. Drivers predictably honked and swerved, and one man later confessed to stopping, but being unsure of what the creature was laying in the road he was too afraid of getting out of his car to investigate. When a driver failed to stop, LuLu would return to Jo Ann to check on her, and then leave again to try and summon help. After about forty-five minutes the determined pig finally managed to persuade a young motorist to stop and follow her to the Altsman's mobile home. Entering, the young man called:
Lady, your pig's in distress.
Jo Ann feebly replied:
I'm in distress, too. Please call an ambulance.
The man, who remained anonymous, telephoned the emergency services and paramedics quickly arrived. When LuLu attempted to ride along with Jo Ann to hospital by climbing up into the back of the ambulance, the paramedics had to gently let her know she had done enough for one day. In her rush to get out to find help, LuLu had cut her pot-belly on a sharp edge of the too-small doggy/piggy door. However, this was the only injury she sustained; remarkable considering she lay on a busy highway for lengthy periods of time trying to stop cars.
For her part in saving Jo Ann Altsman's life LuLu the pig received, along with an incredible amount of local media coverage, what she apparently desired most. Jo Ann assured:
She got a jelly3 doughnut.