After the interviews with Adriana, Matej and Toni, we bring you a new story on house sitting from Faith. Faith runs a marketing agency and is already house sitting for quite some years!
1. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am Irish by birth and I moved to Canada when I was 8 years old. I am a wanderer by nature and lived in London for 10 years travelling when I was younger. My husband and I took early retirement 5 years ago and moved to Mexico where we lived for a year in Chelem on the Yucatan Peninsula. We decided we wanted much more travel and so began our house sitting travels.
2. How many house sits have you done and where?
Sort of lost count now but we have been to Ireland where we have sat in Tipperary, Dublin, Wicklow, Donegal, Kilkenny, Sligo and N. Ireland where we did a 6 month sit in Bangor. Cyprus, Spain 5 x, Scotland, England (London x 3, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire), Canada (Toronto), Mexico (Campeche, Progresso, Merida, Chuburna). We currently have several sits booked including 3 weeks in London, 3 weeks at a 17th Century Manor House in Kilkenny Ireland and in Kent England.
3. What was the first time you did your first house sit? Where was it? What kind of animals were you taking care of? What was your 'first timer' experience?
Our first sit was in Mexico and we looked after 3 rescue dogs. We jumped in to help out a young Canadian couple who needed to fly back to Canada and that was our first taste of house sitting. We then looked after pets for several expats in Mexico. The young couple who we helped out then called us and asked us to come and sit for their cousins in Toronto. We happened to by flying home to visit so said no problem. In the meantime we had applied to a sit in Tipperary Ireland with 7 dogs and 1 cat. We got the job in Tipperary and from our Toronto housesit we flew to Ireland. We have never looked back and have been travelling around the UK and Europe ever since.
4. What was your most special/remarkable/memorable house sit sit and why?
I think the first sit we really did in Toronto. We were staying in a gorgeous house in Toronto that had been featured in Architectural Digest. We never actually met the homeowners as they were in Hawaii getting married and then in British Columbia for their honeymoon. We did meet their family though and of course the lovely dog. We had a brilliant time exploring parts of Toronto that we had never been to although we only lived 2 hours down the road growing up.
5. Have you had anything bad happen to you or a pet while you were house sitting?
Our absolute worst house sit experience was in Cyprus. The cute little dog got stung by a hornet and had a terrible allergic reaction. He stumbled into the house and literally fell over. We had to rush him to the vet and at that time didn't know what was wrong. I will never forget the worry and fear. He was fine though thank goodness. We contacted the homeowner and told her the story and she said to us that she would deduct the money we paid for the vet from what we "owed her". Well that was a surprise to say the least as we learned 3 months into the sit that she expected us to pay for the car she let us use, the phone for calling her about her dog, the electric and internet costs. To say the least we were surprised and so I wrote a piece called Homeowners from Hell and how to avoid them, lol!
6. What have you learned from this that could help future home owners/house sitters?
To always trust your instincts when you skype or contact a homeowner for a sit. If it doesn't feel right don't do it.
7. Why would you recommend house sitting?
We would never have had the chance to see parts of the world that we have seen. House sitting has allowed us the opportunity that very few people ever have, that of getting to live almost like a local. To explore areas and countries that we simply couldn't afford to. It also gives us the chance to travel and have pets at the same time who wouldn't love that?
8. When you look at an ad from a home owner, what is the thing you pay attention to?
Length of house sit is always important, we prefer to do longer sits although we have done a few weeks here and there. We prefer the longer sits as you get to really know an area and explore it properly instead of racing out to see because you are there. We won't spend more than 4 or 5 hours away from the pets unless the homeowner says don't worry or we have no pets to look after. After that we pay really close attention to the homeowners expectations and care concerns for their fur babies. We also won't do a rural sit without access to a vehicle. After our Cyprus adventure we realized that if there is no car and we are stuck in the countryside we can't get that suffering animal to a vet so that is important.
9. What is the question you ALWAYS ask the home owner before you start sitting their pets/house? How do their animals respond to strangers and what do we need to be aware of with regard to their care.
10. What do you tell about yourself in your application? Any specific things?
We take care to ensure that we answer every potential question a homeowner might have in order to reassure them that we are suitable. For example we are lucky enough to have Irish passports and car insurance in Ireland so that helps greatly in the UK and Europe because we are easily insurable on a vehicle and we don't have to worry about visas and so on.
We stress that we are very experienced with animals and have been owned by a multitude of pets over the years. In the case of some homeowners they worry about the breed of dog for example as different breeds have different needs. Since we have had fur babies of every size and breed we have experience with everything including: Pitbulls, Boxers, Pugs, Border Collies, Huskies, mastiffs, bulldogs, teacup terriers, Jack Russells and so on. With cats we have worked with all kinds from feral to Siamese and of course lets add in hamsters, horses, donkeys, tortoises, guinea pigs, hens, quail and various assorted rescue dogs.
11. What is your favourite animal to take care of and why?
Cats and dogs, cats because they are just so independent and in charge. Big dogs are also a favourite, some folks find them hard to manage as they can be smart and sometimes hard to train and walk. We love a big dog, actually the bigger the better.
We believe the more the merrier as well so the more pets there are the better. Animals keep themselves entertained when they have "friends" so we don't get scared when a homeowner says "oh by the way I forgot to mention". One of our latest sits went from 2 dogs to adding 2 kittens, 8 chickens, 4 quail and 2 donkeys.
12. Anything else you want to share with us?
Make sure you have all your kittens in a row, in other words carefully plan out your arrival and departure times, leave the house cleaner than you found it, love those animals as if they were your own and trust your instincts. If it doesn't sound right then don't do it. I would also suggest don't stick to one platform, try a couple of them and see which ones work for you. Sit locally if you can to gain experience and then try country specific platforms to find a good fit. Don't stress when a homeowner doesn't get back to you immediately - they do have lives but don't let it go too long and miss another sit if they don't get back to you.