while the family’s away, the dog will play…

We were no longer a family of 4 and I had to stop ignoring the fact that our 5th (slightly furrier) addition didn’t own a passport. Nor was he going to fully appreciate the Israeli adventure I had planned as our summer holiday.

Of course I knew that kennels existed. It’s just that he was so young and I thought that it would be ideal to leave him in his own environment where he felt happy and secure.

And if I’m honest (because we do adore our overseas jaunts), I often feel a little odd about leaving the house empty. There’s absolutely nothing to steal but you’d never know that from the outside.

So, combine both my these 3rd world ‘problems’ and enter a friend who knew of a site I didn’t. TrustedHousesitters.com does exactly what it says on the tin. AND A LOT MORE.

You see, a pet owner (who loves to travel) needs a pet lover (who also likes to travel) to come and stay over.

It sounds so simple when you say it aloud.

Angela (and John) meeting Ziggy while we finished our packing

Did I mention that the sitter, that person who has promised to love and care for your animal, stays for free in your home? You don’t pay them for their pet love and they don’t pay for your dreamy home/pet.  DREAM TEAM.

As it turns out, the pet loving community is enormous. In fact, there are half a million trusted house sitters and owners in 150 countries looking for a pet like yours or mine.

My first thought was… this can’t be right. I can’t honestly just open up my home to a complete stranger who says they like dogs. But once combing through the site, I started to feel The Trust. Members build their profiles through references, recommendations and police background checks and then when I started to emailing and skyping Angela – we were all sold.

a message from Angela while we were away…

And so now we’ve been away for more than 2 weeks and I’ve what’s app’d Angela more than my mum. She has kept us all entertained and updated with our little cocker spaniel and his various antics. He seems so SO happy. And while we’ve missed him, we’ve been incredibly relaxed knowing what a 5 star experience he is having at home, where his heart is.

I thought it would be best to ask Angela – our housesitter – how it felt in her shoes (in our house):

What is the best thing about living in someone else’s house?

Seeing how happy the pets are and giving pet owners completely peace of mind is the joy.  This is the real reason I pet and housesit. Also exploring the area and living like a local … while creating a connection with the pet’s family without being intrusive or too personal, it’s just like being home from home.

And what’s the worst?

Packing and unpacking

do you prefer dog or cat (or any other animal) sitting?

Each one is different and unique, I love them all. Cats are less demanding of your time, but dogs get you up and out ..  although I would have to decline scaly creatures.

Is there an ideal animal to sit? 

Is there an ideal human to live with? It’s very personal, cat or dog person, horse or goat, couch potato or action woman, knowing yourself is the most important “ideal”

which location have you always wanted to house sit in and never had the opportunity?

Costa Rica … the wildlife is an animal lovers heaven .. apparently

how would you describe Ziggy’s company?

Like having a curious, mischievous and very lovable two year old, who gives you that feeling of euphoria when bedtime comes round.

What will you miss about dog sitting him?

Everything .. I’m besotted

how many animals is too many?

Really depends on many factors – with a dog’s age, behaviour, needs and activity levels although one can be as demanding as three. Knowing the animals complete needs and your limitations as a caregiver are what is most important. I have looked after 3 dogs, 4 cats and two horses on my own but they were all very manageable, no dog walking, horses lived out no stable duties, and the cats were indoor outdoor, no litter trays …

where’s next for you?

Wantage in Oxfordshire – a large country property with a German Shepherd, a lab and a cat.

how/do you stay in touch with your house/pet owners?

While on the sit, in anyway they wish: email, what’s app, Skype. Once completed mostly email, some you stay connected with more than others, I’ve made some lifelong friends through TrustedHousesitters.

tell us a pet sitting story, pls.

I was pet and housesitting in New York for 6 weeks staying in a wonderful apartment on 93rd and Fifth Ave, opp Central Park looking after Alfie, a labradoodle, Mitzi a mini Dachshund and Sabrina a Norwegian Forest Cat. The apartment used to belong to a member of the Kennedy family. One day I was leaving the building having called a cab via the concierge, a new doorman helped me in the cab and said “Have a nice day Mrs Kennedy.”

I smiled sweetly and said “Thank you, young man”.

and now tell us a secret about Ziggy/Ziggy-sitting?!  

He opened the kitchen door in the early hours on Thurs morning (perhaps I didn’t shut it properly) came up the stairs into my bedroom. Obviously the noise woke me up, he was sitting by the bed with one of my shoes in his mouth. I took him back downstairs and it wasn’t until the morning that I found his trail of “FUN”. He’d decided to do some paper work and document shredding for me. My open computer bag…  also the flowers at the side of the bed were delicately strewn across the room…

This was him last night. Bathed and clean for our return…

Membership of TrustedHousesitters costs £89 per annum (less than the cost of several nights in kennels) and comes with free 24-hour online and telephone support. Every month the site helps thousands of pet owners choose like-minded, experienced and trustworthy sitters who will pet sit for FREE while they are away.

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