By Angela Higginbotham
During the summer of 2013, Jacksonville native Melissa Nicholson decided to get a new pet. Little did she know that her decision to embrace a pig would go on to change her life. Nicholson, a University of Alabama graduate and first grade teacher at The Bolles School in Ponte Vedra, decided to share her pet pig, Priscilla, with her class. Later in 2014, Nicholson added Poppleton to the family and never looked back. The Instagram sensations, also known as Prissy and Pop, keep Nicholson busy with travel, fan meetups and photoshoots.
Nicholson has written two children’s books with Prissy and Pop as the main characters. The books, “Prissy and Pop: Big Day Out” and “Prissy and Pop Deck the Halls,” are available locally and via online retailers including Amazon. Nicholson also maintains The Prissy and Pop Shop, offering toys and other merchandise for purchase. Although a bit overwhelming at times, Nicholson enjoys the adventures of having such popular and adorable pigs for pets.
- How did Prissy and Pop become social media stars?
It was first suggested by my niece. I had seen Instagram accounts for pets and so I went with it. I created an Instagram for Prissy first, and Pop came along a bit later. They now have 650,000 followers on Instagram (prissy_pig) and more than 68,000 likes on their Facebook page. I’m still surprised by it. They’ve also been featured in Country Living magazine, People magazine, Cosmopolitan and more.
- Are pigs high maintenance pets?
No, not really. They are the smartest animals, and pigs are actually easier to train than cats and dogs. They graze, eat and sleep just like a dog would around the house. They eat fresh fruits and vegetables. They don’t dress up at the house, but for photos I dress them up. Their outfits are dog clothes from pet stores. Prissy and Pop adore each other. They play and cuddle. They love to go play on the beach.
- What’s the most rewarding part about caring for Prissy and Pop?
They cheer a lot of people up. I get many messages from people who are sick and they tell me that Prissy and Pop are a bright spot for them. When we meet fans, they are always so happy to see Prissy and Pop, and I think that is just the best part of it all.
They get asked to do all kinds of things for people. They have even been asked to participate in weddings as the flower girl and ring bearer.The students at school also love them. I try to incorporate Prissy and Pop into the lessons when possible.
- What impact have Prissy and Pop made on you personally?
I’ve became a vegetarian, and I love rescuing farm animals. Prissy and Pop bring so much joy to people and that just makes me happy as well. They are fun pets. I’m a Miranda Lambert fan and she wanted to meet the pigs, so I got to meet her as well.
- If you could go anywhere in the world with your pets, where would it be?
Well, I would go to Australia, but that’s probably too far for Prissy and Pop. The cheerleaders at my alma mater, the University of Alabama, have invited them to go be cheerleaders at a game, so I’d like to take them there sometime. I’m sure Prissy wants to go cheer.
Photo courtesy Melissa Nicholson
Melissa Nicholson with Prissy and Pop.