Charles the Pig children's book seeks to inspire and teach

Kelsey Leyrer

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) -- As far as family pets go, Charles the pig is treated more like a family member.

"He is a spoiled pig," said his owner, Robert Holmes.

Chalk it up to his hearty appetite or just pure fate, but Charles has been defying expectations from the get go.

"I got him for my daughter. They said, 'Don't worry, it only gets 50 pounds,'" said Holmes. "I'm not really quite sure how the mini pig theory works... if they're bred that small or if they just lied to me."

Now around 200 pounds, Charles is surprising folks on a larger scale; not just as a family pet, but as a community's symbol of hope.

"All of these are from different children from different schools. So, he's touched a lot of hearts and a lot of children," said Holmes pointing to cards they've received.

On the night of November 28, Holmes and his family ran from their lives. The Tennessee wildfires spread fast and didn't leave them any time to grab Charles.

"I felt horrible but I had to protect the rest of my family. I had my 18-month-old, my 15-year-old daughter and my wife," said Holmes.

Everything they left behind was destroyed. But, their stubborn family pet survived.

"It's pretty much a miracle. When you see the melted aluminum and the porcelain toilets, how could anything survive that type of heat?" said Holmes.

Charles defied the odds, inspiring his community and his owner along the way.

Before moving to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Holmes was an artist. Almost everything he created was destroyed in the fire.

"I kept thinking, 'How can you make something good out of a bad situation?'" he said.

So with inspiration from Charles, he decided to start from scratch. He created a children's book called "The Miraculous Story of Charles the Pig." The book was written and illustrated by Holmes and his wife.

"It ends with a message of not to play with matches or fire," he said.

But at it's core, it's a story of a silver lining.

"What they'll get out of this book is a message of faith and hope and resiliency, and that's an important thing in society nowadays," said Holmes.

The book can be pre-ordered on Etsy or through Charles the Pig's website. If you purchase it through those two sites, you can receive a 'hoof-print' along with it.

You can also order the book at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.