family, house sitter, pet sitter, pets, Travel

No dogs allowed: How to score an awesome house sitter for FREE!

We have a big black lab.  We love to travel.  Sometimes these things do not go together.  Do you have a pet that keeps you from taking longer trips or any trips at all?

I have the answer!  It will sound a little crazy at first but stick with me because not only does it give me peace of mind but it is FREE.

Our lab is our oldest child.  When I was pregnant with B we developed a special relationship because my husband was away for 7 months.  He was my guard and slept in the bed with me, resting his head on my belly.  Her kicks made him look at me with shock and disdain as though I myself had wumped him in the chin.  The nerve!

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no concept of personal space

As the kids arrived and have grown he’s been the best dog we could have ever dreamed.  He goes to them when they cry, sleeps in their rooms when they are sick and hides with them when they are in trouble.  Because of these things I am willing to overlook how  many times he woke them up as babies when the UPS man came to the door…or leaves were blowing in the wind.

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Keeping track of the kids before they were even mobile!

These days he’s getting older.  Today he is a grey old man at 11 1/2 years old and he is slowing down.  No more running, no more jumping and no more fetch.  The move to Hawaii aged him at a rate only a U.S. President might understand.  I swear we put him in the car in North  Carolina all black and after 3 months of taking him along with us all over the USA he arrived in Honolulu a grey old man.  Sigh… sometimes I feel like I’m raising Benjamin Button because when the right food is on the counter he can still look just like a puppy but the reality is he’s just not a pup anymore.

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Current picture of our old fella.

All these things considered – it is hard to leave him.  The guilt I feel is akin to mommy guilt which can gnaw at my insides like a beaver building a damn.  It is awful.

When we wanted to go to Spain several years ago for an extended period of time  I had major concerns about the roadblock known as pet care.  First of all, who would be able to take care of him for 3 months?  How much would that cost?  Would he be alone a lot?

I had nearly decided to cancel our trip when an idea came to me in the middle of the night.  I sat up in bed and heard the calm voice of sanity whisper, “Google it.”  So I whipped out my phone and googled “house sitter.”  My life was forever changed.

Let me preface this by saying I am not a paid advertiser for this company nor do I have any affiliation with the website I am about to tell you about other than being a satisfied customer.  And I’m not even sure I can be called a customer because I haven’t paid anything.  That being said, the service I have been provided is invaluable.

 

House Sitters America is a website that connects house sitters with home owners to help coordinate pet care or simply keep your house from being empty too long if that is what you desire.  The process for me has been quite easy and I have always gotten several responses from sitters in the first 24 hours after I post a job.  Even better, there is no exchange of money.  Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.

This sounds too good to be true, right?  I thought so too, until we tried it.  It is truly a win-win for everyone involved because the sitter gets to visit an area that may be new to them without incurring the cost of lodging and I get to sleep well while I travel knowing my only son is being lovingly cared for in his own home.

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A picture our first house sitter, Nancy, sent us while we were in Spain.

When I posted our upcoming request I got over 20 responses in the first 48 hours.  And I was worried no one would be available to come all the way to Hawaii!  Silly me.

Whether you are looking to travel a little cheaper and be a sitter yourself or you need someone to walk, feed and love on Fido as only someone staying in your home can, House Sitter America is a great option.

We are embarking on another adventure with a house sitter in our home beginning next week.  I promise to report back and update this post when we return.  I have already enjoyed getting to know our house sitter over Skype and can’t wait to meet her in person when she flies in.

All my excitement and blind trust aside, here are a few things to consider when choosing a house sitter:

  1. Do you prefer a single person, a family, a couple?  What are you most comfortable with when you think of who will be staying in your home?  I have typically looked for women traveling alone because I like the idea of offering them a safe, secure place to stay and my dog is more stressed with new men around so I’d rather avoid additional stress for him.
  2. It’s important to create a list of house rules or things you want the house sitter to abide by when they are staying with you.  I don’t want to come home to an electric bill double my normal amount or other unexpected bills so I ask them not to run the air conditioning below a certain temperature and give all access to our television (Hulu, Netflix and Amazon) but I do not give our passwords so they will not charge additional movies to my account.
  3. The website offers a basic legal document you can both sign that protects both parties.  I always use this document.  We have never had any issues but we like the protection it affords in the event there is some misunderstanding.
  4. I ask for pictures of my pup throughout the course of our travels.  This is important to me to see that he is happy and well.  It comforts me and my kiddos to see him doing well.
  5. Consider where the house sitter will sleep while they stay in your home.  I always ask them to stay in our master bedroom because it is where our dog prefers to sleep and I want him to feel comfortable.  No one has ever had an issue with this request.  Where would you feel most comfortable having your house sitter sleep?

There are other things specific to each person/family that are worth considering when entering into a situation such as this.  That being said, this is certainly not for everyone.  It requires a level of trust from both the house sitter and the homeowner and a willingness to try something new.

We’ve had only wonderful experiences using the website above which is why we continue to return.  If I can answer any questions please feel free to comment below and I will do my best!  Again, I am not an expert nor am I a paid advertiser but this service has allowed us to spread our wings and enjoy having a family pet without compromising one for the other.  It is a huge gift and something for which we are grateful.

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Our boy trying to decide if he can help us get luggage down from the attic.

If you choose to give this a shot I’d love to hear about your experience.  Just remember not to blame me if you select a Fraternity or Little League baseball team to watch over your home.   I cannot be held responsible for other people turning your house into a party palace!  Choose wisely.  😉

 

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