This month I'm doing a 30-Day Blog Challenge. Each day I will offer up a serving of what's in my heart in the moment. My wish is for you to receive a delicious blessing, and my hope is that you will feel inspired to leave a precious morsel of that in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!
Have you ever considered house or pet sitting? Do you imagine yourself traveling the world moving from house to house? Or perhaps helping out friends and neighbors in your community? Wonder what it's like?
I recently completed my fifth house sit and I'd love to give you a quick peek behind the curtain.
Living in another person's home while they're away is a profound experience. Bonding with their pets even more so. Because of the level of trust involved, I cherish the experience as a sacred privilege. I'm entering into people's lives and homes--my job is to keep the home fires burning which translates into safe, clean and full of affection and love for the creatures who live there. It's an absolute delight on all levels, so much so, that I often miss the animals long after I leave ( it's part of the territory).
The key to success with all of this is having a good fit for both sides. it's a bit like matchmaking, so there needs to be a good rapport between the home owners and sitter, but even more important is the rapport between the animals and the sitter.
Having a good fit begins with asking the right questions, then listening good and hard to intuition. The questions should cover all the basics including learning about the neighbors/neighborhood, the features of the house or apartment, what duties are expected (mail, house plants, feeding, walking, litter box, trips to the vet, etc.) and most importantly, LOTS of questions about the animals--their needs, habits, quirks, separation anxiety, sleep preferences, food issues, health problems and so on. This gives you a baseline to know if you're up to the task of this particular situation.
I've turned down a number of sits recently because they were just not a good fit. Sometimes the dates don't work with my schedule. Sometimes an animal has health or psychological issues and I don't feel comfortable taking that on with the owner being out of the country (in this case, a professional pet sitter with training in caring for high needs animals would be better). Other times a home owner simply wanted too much work without offering compensation such as daily care for four horses or extensive yard work or home repair. Then there are the times when something just didn't feel right. I might not be able to put my finger on it, but my gut was telling me no. I have to listen. In fact, my intuition is the final decision maker for all my house sits. If it feels right, I do it. If not, I don't.
With that said, when everything flows between you and the home owner, the experience can be amazing! Mutual appreciation all around, happy pets and a well-cared for home. I love creating such a positive experience for home owners so they can get away and truly enjoy a worry-free vacation.
I got into this quite by accident a little over a year ago, but it's turned into a happy accident with each experience teaching me how to make the next experience even better. It allows me to live in a neigborhood as a temporary resident rather than as a tourist or visitor. I come into it with something at stake so I'm more attuned to and invested in my surroundings
Are there downsides? Of course. The main one is is that it is difficult to line up a series of consecutive house sits, so there are gaps in between when I need to find places to stay. This can be pretty stressful and a bit pricey, but it can even out when you do long stretches of house sitting in which your housing is free. Sometimes you get requests from a few wonderful people for the same dates. I hate to have to say no, but I refer the people I turn down to the house sitting sites I use so they can quickly find someone else. It's also a lot of responsibility. While it seems easy from the outside, it tends to hit you once you're in the midst of a house sit that you're solely responsible for someone's most expensive possession and the animals they love so deeply. You might ask yourself, what if something happens or goes wrong? I've found that this type of fearful thinking helps no one. Instead, I focus on being present and grounded, and doing my best.
I haven't yet done any house sits outside of the U.S. As I understand it, being in another country comes with a whole other set of issues connected with differences in language and culture, immigration laws and overall expectations. I look forward to stepping into that at some point. I've noticed that there is more receptivity and support of the whole concept of leaving your home in the hands of strangers in the U.K. and Australia. Less so in the U.S., but it's supposedly catching on here.
In the meantime, if house sitting is something you'd like to try, start doing it for neighbors or friends, gather some experience and references and then jump in with both feet! You never know what might unfold from there. It's a great way to meet new friends and maybe even live a long-held dream of traveling to new places. Feel free to reach out to me with questions.