At the insistence of family and friends I have been asked to include the story of my most unusual client, Wally the Javelina, in my website. If you have found your way to this page, welcome to my "secret public web page," with apologies to comedian Mike Birbiglia.
If you have never encountered one, a javelina is a wild boar that roams portions of southwestern Texas in herds. A lot of folks consider them pests, as javelinas can be destructive and have been known to be aggressive when they perceive a threat.
A wonderful and kind lady named Vicki, who lives with her husband Bill in a beautiful canyon to the west of tiny Alpine, Texas, is the heroine of this story. Vicki lives in a very rural area that is far from any paved roads. Their property is visited daily by wild deer and the occasional roving herd of javelinas, who feast on food and water Vicki sets out for them.
One sunny afternoon in the Spring of 1997 a herd of javelinas that included some newborns made its usual stop at Vicki's house. After enjoying their brief repast the herd moved on, but it left behind an infant javelina that was only a couple of days old. This infant had fallen off a rock outcropping onto its face, badly injuring its jaw. The javelina's mother had stayed with her herd, abandoning her severely injured son. Vicki found the injured javelina that had been left behind to die, and she undertook to save it. At the time, it was her intention to nurse the javelina back to health and return him to his herd if she were able to save it. Little did she know how misinformed that intention would prove to be.
Vicki named the javelina "Wally," and he quickly became a member of the household. For weeks Vicki nursed little Wally with an eye dropper, as he was much too young to have been weaned from his mother. Vicki even talked her dentist into performing surgery on Wally's injured jaw. Even with the best dental care Alpine had to offer, Wally was left with what can best be called a "snaggle-tusk." Once Wally was healthy again, at about four weeks of age, Vicki sadly attempted to re-introduce him to his herd. However, the herd showed little interest in him, and he showed no interest in returning to the wild. Wally would mingle with the herd when they visited, but he never considered leaving his adoptive family.
As Wally grew, he proved to be quite intelligent. Like an obedient dog Wally would answer to his name and come when Vicki called him. He is housebroken, and he loves to take a bath in the bath tub. In fact, upon hearing the word "bath" Wally runs to the bathroom and jumps in the tub - not an easy feat for a 90 pound guy with short, skinny legs and hooved feet!
Because Vicki and her husband both work long hours, they had a housekeeper who would come to their house on a regular basis. The housekeeper was treated like one of the family, and she also became attached to Wally. One day the housekeeper brought a friend of hers to Vicki's house. Despite being warned that Wally needed an opportunity to familiarize himself with her scent, she panicked when Wally approached her, and she cut her leg on his malformed tusk.
After an ambulance ride to the hospital emergency room, it seemed like a trip to a lawyer was in order. In short order, Vicki and Wally found themselves defendants in a lawsuit alleging that Wally was a wild and dangerous animal. It then became my privilege to represent them. You can probably imagine the good-natured abuse I took from friends in the legal community about my representation of a "wild pig" during Wally's case. We eventually came up with a high falutin' description of our client Wally as a "major pork producer" from the Big Bend area of Texas.
Even before the lawsuit Wally had become a minor celebrity in Alpine, a town where everybody knows everybody. When my mother in Tennessee learned of Wally's case, she decided to come to Alpine with me when it was time for Wally's trial. By the time the lawsuit went to trial Vicki was fully prepared to defend her beloved Wally. And that she did. The folks on the jury came from all over Brewster County, the largest county in Texas at over 6,000 square miles. The jurors were extremely skeptical that a wild animal like a javelina could ever really be domesticated, but Vicki won them over when she pulled out photographs from Wally's baby book and described all of the effort that went into saving Wally's life. After careful deliberation the jury found for Vicki and Wally. And Wally didn't even have to testify!
Today Wally, Vicki and Bill live an idyllic life on the outskirts of Alpine. From time to time I get to see them when I return to Alpine, where I have attained the only celebrity I hope to achieve in my life - as "Wally's lawyer." I highly recommend a visit to Alpine if the opportunity ever arises. And if you want to see Wally, you might consider picking up a 6 pack of Shiner beer and a bag of Oreo cookies, his favorite treats.