Here, in a Pawleys Island house, situated in woods vast and wide, is a girl whose world is a whirl of animals fat, fluffy, feathery and floating.
The girl’s name is Elizabeth Davis and she is 8 years old. She is funny, feisty and a friend to a variety of creatures once abandoned and lost, but now loved in her heart and home.
On this day, she is in a white and teal blue Matilda Jane outfit, featuring a tiered skirt and a white T-shirt emblazoned with the message: “Let Your Smile Change The World.”
This second-grader at Coastal Montessori Charter School grins aplenty, especially when surrounded by her pet pals.
Punkin, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig that can rear up on his hind legs like a dog, is chief among her animal friends. Hunter, Elizabeth’s 10-year-old brother, also prefers Punkin.
“I was probably 5 or 6 when I got him from All 4 Paws (Animal Rescue),” said Elizabeth while Punkin stood by her side. “When I put my hands into the cage and petted him, I just knew we were going to be best buds.”
Since his adoption, Punkin has settled in well with his other animal companions living cozy and carefree with Elizabeth and her family.
Biscuit, an orange cat, was saved in 2002. Shannon Davis, Elizabeth’s mom, was traveling home to South Carolina when she happened upon Biscuit in Dalton, Ga.
The cute cat, which resembles a Turkish angora, walked up to her and jumped into her lap.
“The owner said she was a porch kitty and that she needed a home,” Shannon said. “It took me all of five minutes to make a decision to take her.”
Since that day, animals in need of love and homes have been fortunate enough to meet the Davis family.
The proverbial apple of their collective eyes is, of course, Elizabeth. She, like untold children around the globe, has the magical ability to love and appreciate each of her pets with a passion pure and assured by hugs, kisses and nose rubs.
“She has learned how to become an animal owner,’’ Shannon said. “Instead of just co-habitating with a pet who the adults take care of, she has learned to take ownership by attending to their safety, their care, loving them and keeping our home and cages clean.”
Yes, animals are in this house but it doesn’t smell like an animal house. The air in here is fresh.
Elizabeth does an extraordinary job of being a parent and manager of her private menagerie of mammals, chickens and one reptile – Tooter the Turtle, a yellow-bellied slider, adopted in April 2016.
Elizabeth handles their bad moods without flinching and with aplomb.
When Punkin gets peeved, he loses his cool.
“He will squeal and grunt if he is in a bad mood,” Elizabeth said.
Punkin, adopted just before Halloween in 2015, insists on being the apple of her eye and getting first dibs on where he sleeps in her bed.
“One night, he was running to get in the bed and I ran as fast as I could down the hallway to get to the bed first,” said Elizabeth, while Punkin joined her in the den. “He will push me off the bed to get to the blankets.”
“The struggle is real,” shouted Elizabeth’s dad, Brandon Davis, from the kitchen where he was preparing clam chowder.
“It is like two pigs rooting for the same spot,” Shannon said.
Elizabeth chuckled at their comments, as animal friends gathered around her.
Sammy, a coonhound, arrived in January 2002. He was found near Samworth Plantation in Georgetown County. He is quietly sitting, staring and wagging his tail.
Another dog, Buddy, a stray perhaps part Shih Tzu, was vying for Elizabeth’s attention. So, she picked him up, held him close and gave him a forehead kiss. Buddy belonged to a homeless man before being adopted by the Davis family.
“It was love at first sight for my husband,’’ Shannon said. “It took me a bit longer and Elizabeth was to the moon because Buddy acted like a puppy even though he was supposedly 3 years old. We adopted him two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2014.”
One of Shannon’s friends was shopping at an area Kmart when she spotted his previous owner asking people to take Buddy because of what could be a harsh winter.
Buddy is kind, friendly and charming. He licks and snuggles with ease. He is everybody’s Buddy, except Biscuit for reasons unknown.
Elizabeth enjoys the companionship of every animal she owns.
Somehow – between school days, nine to 10 hours of sleep each night, being a Girl Scout and an active churchgoer – she makes time for all of her rescues, including sugar gliders and rabbits.
Her favorites include Punkin and Thumper, a Mini Lop rabbit adopted in December 2014.
“I love everything about Punkin,” Elizabeth said. “He likes to sleep with me. He bonds with me, and he snores louder than I do. Thumper, he cuddles with me and sometimes he bites my fingers, mistaking them for carrots.”
Carrots are not only enjoyed by the rabbits, but also by Punkin. The pig gets his fill of dry food made specifically for pot-bellied pigs. He also roots for food in their backyard, serene natural woods.
“Pigs are highly trainable, smart animals because they are completely food-driven,’’ Shannon said. “So, they will learn (to) do just about anything for food.”
And at least one sweet swine will do anything for a little girl named Elizabeth.
“Every night before we go to bed, I just rub his head,’’ she said. “It makes him really relaxed, and it relaxes me too.”
Contact Johanna D. Wilson at JohannasCarolinaCharacters@gmail.com or to suggest subjects for an upcoming column.