LIKE Fern and Wilbur in Charlotte's Web, there was a special kind of friendship between Imbil battler Barry Digman and his pet pig, Spike.
Barry lives alone and raised Spike from a piglet. He was his "mate".
But Spike met a cruel and terrifying death last week.
The RSPCA is investigating the incident, which occurred about 10.30pm last Tuesday while Barry was just down the road playing bowls.
Somebody had gone to the eight-acre property at the top of Bundy Rd which Barry shares with a couple of well-fed cats, friendly kookaburras and, until last week, his 114kg mate.
Spike was freed from his pen that night and herded down Bundy Rd towards Yabba Creek Rd.
The gates to the property and into Spike's pen had been chained and wired shut when Barry left to play bowls, but when he returned he found them wide open and Spike missing.
A local resident who saw Spike herded past her house by a group of people said yesterday some were walking less than a metre behind him, and others were in a ute, though another two cars full of people turned up to watch the pigging dogs set loose on him before he was knifed.
It is believed he was later cut up for dog meat.
"I could hear the poor thing squealing," the resident said.
"I called the police but they told me the best thing I could do was make a noise complaint to the council."
Soon after the incident, those involved posted a photo of the dead Spike on Facebook along with some comments indicating there had been a "wild pig in town".
"Not bad Tuesday night main street pigging in Imbil" was another comment.
The posts were later taken down, but not before witnesses had printed them off.
The resident who saw the group with Spike said yesterday "what wild pig lets you walk along half a metre behind it?"
"He was big but he was gentle," a gutted Barry said.
Barry acquired Spike as a piglet about nine months ago, and would sometimes tuck him under his arm and take him into the pub to meet the locals.
Spike lived in a pen out the back of Barry's home and loved yoghurt, tummy rubs and playing in water.
Barry has also reported the matter to police.