Now, that's an important question for a house sitter.
Most house sits involve looking after 1 or more pets. The main issue for most pet owners is for their beloved pets to be kept safe, healthy, happy and loved whilst they are away. And of course they need a genuine pet lover to do so. I am convinced most pets will recognize people for who they are, pet lovers or not. I am pretty sure most animals know it when you're not that into them. This definitely plays a role when you go on a first interview to meet home owners and their pets. It's always a good sign if the pets seem to genuinely like you. What's more: some pets have their subtle say in the choice of their future sitter(s). Their owners will observe the pets' behavior and reaction to you and this may impact the final decision of who's going to be the house sitter.
Saying all this reminds me of our very first house sit in 2006. The object of our care was Reuben, a beautiful British Shorthair. Although his owner, Christina, was in fact looking for a single person to come and live with him, we somehow managed to make her change her mind. Well, we didn't, Reuben did... by allowing me to pick him up and give him a cuddle (which apparently no one but his owners had ever managed to do before).
I've noticed there are effectively different types of pet lovers. I am not sure how to describe myself in relation to animals but my husband, Bart, would probably call me rather 'pushy'. I just need to show my affection to cats, dogs and fluffy creatures alike. I really want to interact with them. I want to get their attention, I want to touch them, I chat away. That's just me, I can't help it... Whenever we're on an interview I somehow want to reassure the pets; they have to know that I'd take really good care of them and that they'd be in for some fun times with us. My approach usually works. And if it doesn't, there's always Bart, my husband.
He has a very different way of 'being' around pets (and people). It seems like he never really pays attention to Mr Dog or Mrs Cat, no matter what show they put on for him. Bart almost looks like he's constantly ignoring them. When I first met him I wasn't so sure about this aspect of his personality. Was this man a real 100% pet lover, like me? I now know he adores pets and he interacts with them in a very different way than I do. He often attracts a certain type of pet, mostly cats. Maybe some felines like the challenge of winning humans over? There are cats who just love to be around someone who 'leaves them alone' but is available whenever His / Her Highness decides it's time for some cuddling or a sleep on a lap. Sometimes there is a hierarchy in the household that just can't be changed. Other times we meet pets who are quite introverted and find comfort in humans alike. It's about finding the right approach to deal with each individual pet. That doesn't happen overnight. Even in their own home, most pets need a couple of days to get used to their new carers and the absence of their owners. And only then we discover their real personality.
Bart and I are still very different in our approach to caring for pets but over the years we've both developed this ability of finding out what a particular pet wants and needs from us. Every pet is different and we've learned to adapt our behavior accordingly. A tiny effort can easily make us more likable and help the pet relax. That's a really good tool for house and pet sitters as ultimately it's all about the pets' happiness. This makes our stay a success and paves the way to the next house sit(s).
Yes, I am. And I love it.
A lot of people seem to be fascinated by the fact that I have been a house & pet sitter for many years now. I used to be a teacher and that's a proper job (according to my mum). But house sitting? That sounds a bit weird...
No, I don't get paid to house sit but my husband has a 'real' paid job. Yes, we sleep in someone else's bed all the time but so do you when you stay in a hotel. No, we don't pay rent at all and most of the time no utilities either.
We've cuddled an army of cats and dogs and have moved more times than we can remember. In a way it has changed us for the better and we are aware of how having more time has made our lives richer. And we (or I should say 'I') have also stopped buying things we don't really need. The mere thought of having to move it afterwards is enough to make us think twice. Now that's an eco friendly way of living and it does save us money.
Despite all the moving we've made some good friends through our house sitting experience and some of them are as nomadic as we are.
If our life ever goes back to normal we'll have our list of favourite breeds of cats and dogs ready to get our own pet again. And if I was then to start a new job I could be an interior consultant. You wouldn't believe how much we know about good and bad floor plans and colors in houses.
At the moment we're far from retiring from house sitting, especially now that we've created Easy House Sitting. Our aim is to create a large and easily accessible network of house sitters and pet owners Australia wide. On this blog I'll regularly write about all kinds of house sitting and pet matters. All feedback or suggestions for future blog topics can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hoping to stay in touch,