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Publié le by NmNomador

Your new best friend: pet-sitting with Nat & Jodie of House Sitting World

Live the dream

House-sitting and pet-sitting are words that belong together: they’re two halves of the perfect travel experience! 

So much joy comes from having the opportunity to bond with someone’s pet – and make a new best friend – during your stay. We’ve heard so many delightful stories about people forming real connections with the pets they look after, and we couldn’t wait to ask veteran house-sitters and founders of HouseSittingWorld, Nat and Jodie, about their experiences looking after furry (or feathered) friends…

Have you looked after someones pets before? If so, tell us about the experience! Do you have any fun/quirky/memorable stories to share about your experiences looking after pets?

We always choose to house sit with pets but this has been personal choice. We absolutely love the company of pets while we are working. So far we have looked after all different breed of dogs, cats, chickens, and now a macaw parrot (with attitude!) here in Greece! 

Our funniest pet was a 10-week-old ginger kitten in Canada. It is the first time we had looked after a kitten and he was the funniest little thing ever! Full of energy and just a real lad, he would tear around the house terrorising his two sisters. He was also the first pet that slept in the bed with us, and being winter he would just love to cuddle as closely as possible. So you can picture this, Jodie on one edge of the bed, me in the middle, and then tiny little Oscar weighing in at 2lbs on the other side of me. I was so mindful of not rolling and squashing him during the night that I would move closer to Jodie to get away from him. But of course every time I moved over, he would move with me to stay warm, until by morning all three of us were completely crammed onto one edge of the bed about to fall out, and the other three quarters was just vacant!

About 80% of all house sits have pets to be looked after and this is the main reason someone will get a sitter in, especially on shorter sits. Have you become attached to any particular pet? Tell us the story! (Name, breed, why you became friends!)

We become very attached to a street dog called ‘Flaca' from our house sit in Costa Rica. Flaca means ‘skinny’ in Spanish, and when Flaca was rescued some years before that is exactly what she was. So much so, she could not even lift her head to eat, so Liane (the home owner) had to feed her through an eye dropper for several weeks until she was strong enough to eat on her own.  

In 2013 we looked after Flaca for a month while her mum went back to the US. She was an awesome dog, full of life, always in the jungle chasing the monkeys and encouraging her siblings to get up to mischief. But on the flipside, she would take time out regularly and come over and just look at us, almost to say “Thank you for being here to look after me. I am so grateful to have another chance at life.”

Having such a dramatic story as she did, we did a feature article on Flaca in our first issue of ‘House Sitting World’ magazine. It was an article that Jodie wrote but from Flaca’s point of view about her life, how she was on the streets in Panama and was so starving by the time Liane picked her up and give her a new home. The story was an absolute tear jerker, like somehow Jodie had channeled little Flaca and how she really felt about things.

Jodie then sent a copy of it to Liane before we published the article, just to check that she had all the details of Flaca’s story correct. Liane wrote back a day later and said that she had been wondering how to tell us, but Flaca had to be put down exactly one week before due to a complication she had and was in a lot of pain as a result. We were just devastated. 

We all realised then that Jodie had not been writing an article about Flaca, but had actually been writing her eulogy.  

Flaca is the first dog we looked after that is no longer with us, and it really has left an impact on us. Since then we have had news that two other dogs we have looked after have died just recently. It really does leave an empty feeling when you have spent so much loving time with them. 

What do you think a pet-owner leaving a pet behind is most worried about? How do you put their mind at ease?

From our experience and also talking to many home owners, they are most worried that their pets routine is maintained and they are not allowed to develop bad habits with the house sitter.

This is a genuine concern really as many pets will definitely ‘test’ you out when you first get there. They will try different things and see if they can get away with it! 

The best way to assure the owner is to be very detailed with them before they leave about what is acceptable and what is not. Knowing all the habits and quirks of the pets is very helpful to a house sitter and will help maintain their regular routine. 

Knowing how to handle and approach new dogs in terms of commanding respect is also a useful skill to have. This will ensure you establish yourself as the alpha dog straight away with them. Knowing how to do this and demonstrating this in front of the owner will always help reassure an owner that you will be able to handle your new charges. 

Are you ready to make a new best friend? Start searching for your dream house-sitting opportunity on Nomador – complete with four-legged friends!

Photo credits: Natalie Smith, Jodie Thompson

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