When Maddie Johnson is rudely awoken from her slumber by the noise of snoring ‘like a pig,’ it gives a whole new meaning to ‘hogging the duvet,’ as it is not her partner Stephen, but her pet porker who is to blame.
For not only does the animal lover share her bed in San Francisco, California, USA, with her other half – they also snuggle up with their 7st pet Julianna pig, Pickles.
And if you think that sounds crowded, Pickles’s best mate – French bulldog Dill – sleeps with them as well.
The couple rescued Pickles in February 2017 after he was displaced by flash floods 45 miles away.
The new addition to the family has completely changed Maddie and Stephen’s lives, turning them into anti-pork eating campaigners, and thankfully he gets on very well with their dog Dill.
Video content creator Maddie, 27, said: “I take them to the beach and Pickles will be playing in the tide while Dill nervously looks on.
“Pickles will run circles around Dill until he finally caves and goes for a paddle.
“It works the other way around, too, with Dill looking out for Pickles.
“If another dog comes over and challenges Pickles, Dill gets between them and stands his ground.
“Pickles is like his big bro and if you want to hang out with him, you have to accept his brother.
“You can almost hear him saying, ‘It’s cool, it’s cool. Pickles is one of us – he’s a dog.’ It’s so sweet.”
Maddie was astonished when Stephen agreed to her request to adopt Pickles, when she saw an appeal for people to give homes to displaced farm animals.
And he immediately proved to be the ideal house pig, as he instinctively only did his business in their yard.
She said: “I grew up in the country and always loved the idea of having my own pig.
“I knew from farm visits as a child how clever they were and how much personality they have.
“One night I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw an appeal from a farm hit by flash flooding and they didn’t have the money to rebuild after all the damage.
“They had about a dozen farm animals that needed re-homing and by the time I called they had one piglet left.
“I turned to Stephen and said, ‘Look, there’s one pig left – should we go get it?’
“He told me to grab my coat and that was that, we were off to save a pig!”
During the 90 mile round trip to the farm in Sacramento, Maddie made sure her husband knew they would not be adopting a so-called micro pig.
She said: “The problem with a lot of people who adopt pigs as pets is they think they’re going to stay piglet-sized forever – and they don’t.
“Micro pigs are never micro. They can weigh up to 200lb when fully grown and still be classed as micro.
“Stephen is definitely what you’d call a city boy and I didn’t want him to think we were adopting a pig the size of a Chihuahua.”
But Pickles won Stephen’s heart and the couple were soon loading their car boot with a week’s supply of pig feed.
Naming him Pickles as a tribute to a neighbour’s pig from her childhood, Maddie said: “We didn’t have to do too much to pig proof the house at all.
“The main thing was making sure he couldn’t get into any kitchen cupboards with cleaning products in – that sort of thing.
“He was quite nervous at first. He would stay in his own bed and not venture off very far.
“But by the end of the week he was less piglet and more puppy – running all over the place, asking for belly scratches and snuggles on the sofa.
“Within a month he was sleeping in our bed!”
Soon, Pickles had fully embraced his role as pig-dog, exploring all that California – America’s Golden State – has to offer.
“Since he was one-month-old we started taking Pickles out and about,” Maddie explained.
“First it would be for five or 10-minute walks around the block on a collar and lead, but before long we were heading to the coast or exploring the forest.
“We’ve had so many adventures. He might not have the speed of a dog but he certainly has the stamina.”
And, six months after adopting Pickles, they decided it was time find him a playmate.
“Pigs are herd animals and it felt wrong for Pickles not to have his own buddy to play with,” Maddie added.
Initially, hoping to adopt another piglet, it soon became clear that Pickles had his heart set on another species entirely.
“Our neighbour has the sweetest French bulldog and when Pickles met her he went absolutely wild,” Maddie explained.
“After that, whenever he’d see a Frenchie he’d squeal with glee and run in circles.”
So, the couple bought a French bulldog puppy from a local breeder in July 2017.
“They got on straight away,” Maddie laughed. “They’re like two peas in a pod.
“They’re the same size, make the same grunting noises and have the same total lack of shame.
“Dill definitely sees Pickles as his big brother and as a puppy he’d try and do whatever he did.
“He’d graze on carrots and kale – looking really confused – but he’d refuse to give up because that’s what Pickles did.
“I guess he was quite timid at the beginning, which is hard to imagine now, as Pickles really pulled him out of his shell.”
Soon, Pickles had a partner in crime to accompany him on his daily walks.
Maddie added: “As you can imagine, we get a lot of double takes.”
Always looking at ways to keep her four-legged friends entertained, last summer she signed the duo up to agility classes.
And, it just so happens, Pickles was their first pupil with trotters.
“He’s definitely top hog,” Maddie laughed.
“We go every month. At first, other dog owners were shocked when Pickles turned up, but now he’s part of the furniture.
“Pickles definitely learns things much faster than he did at first, but he’s still a lot slower than Dill.
“Dill will charge right into something, without really knowing what he’s doing.
“They run through tunnels, go over jumps, weave – do everything you’d expect from doggy agility.”
After people were charmed by her quirky pet, Maddie started sharing photos of the pair on Instagram.
She said: “People are always stopping to take a photo or ask more about their backstory.
“I started documenting their life and found that people were loving it.
“I think they love the friendship and the big personalities that come through.
“If they do anything together people go wild, whether it’s a trip to the beach or eating some carrots.”
And, with over 100,000 followers, Maddie hopes her social media reach will encourage people to rethink their attitude towards animals as more than just food.
Maddie said: “Since adopting Pickles and Dill I’ve provided foster care to several animals – including puppies, piglets and even a goat – but Pickles and Dill remain a staple of our household.
“People are always very charmed and that makes me happy because then they start to see how loving, bright and sociable pigs can be.
“They see Pickles and Dill and compare their friendly nature.
“I really want to encourage people to think about pigs as more than just food.
“It’s not about being preachy or telling people what to do – Pickles and Dill speak for themselves, as their relationship is so strong.
“Their Instagram is a happy corner of the internet that, hopefully, makes people smile and if a ripple effect of that means people stop eating meat – it’s a bonus.”