PHOENIX — Most of us know and love The Lion King's dynamic duo, Timon and Pumbaa.
The warthog and meerkat pair teach young Simba the meaning of "Hakuna Matata." It means "no worries" according to them, but roughly translates to "there are no troubles" in Swahili.
The real-life version of the two friends actually exists at a Phoenix-area pig rescue and sanctuary, Better Piggies Rescue, except there, they take the form of an inseparable pig and chihuahua.
The two friends were rescued from a home by the Arizona Humane Society several months ago after their owner became incarcerated and no one came to claim them.
AHS' South Mountain campus can only house dogs, cats, and smaller animals, so they needed to relocate the two together where Pumbaa, the pig, would be able to thrive.
Enter Dwight Dixon and Danielle Betterman, the two who run Better Piggies Rescue. They care for more than 140 pigs, three cows, a horse, and several dogs that reside there.
"This is the first dog that we’ve taken in," said Dixon. "Normally our rescue efforts are dedicated towards pigs. I was really nervous at first because pigs and dogs normally do not get along well together, you’re talking about a natural predator versus natural prey."
Timon and Pumbaa, they soon realized, were the best of friends.
"Timon’s got this obsession with riding on Pumbaa's back and Pumbaa does not seem to mind it at all," Dixon said. "Pigs love a good hard scratch on their back, and I think that the nails definitely help. It definitely seems like they both want to protect each other at all times."
Better Piggies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization near Cave Creek that was established in 2017. It's one of the only two pig rescues in the state, so they try to take in as many rescue pigs as they can.
"I would say we are as full as it gets right now," said Dixon.
It's a problem-free philosophy to try to give their rescues the best life possible, but as a nonprofit, they can only take extreme rescue cases right now because of the overcapacity.
Typically, Dixon says, they're getting two to four surrender requests each day right now.
"During COVID, a lot of people got pigs as pets because they were home all the time," Dixon explained. "Now, they’re going back to work and these pigs have grown to be a lot larger than they thought they would."
They only adopt out their pigs after thorough applicant screening.
Timon and Pumbaa, however, are a different case.
"Likely, Timon and Pumbaa are going to be sticking with us for quite a while, just because Pumbaa, we believe, is probably in his later years of life, and being that they are so bonded with each other it would be really hard to try and send them out together," Dixon said.
Now for them, it means no worries in their new home for the rest of their days.
If you'd like to donate to Better Piggies, click this link to find out how you can help.