House Sitting Blog
30 Jan 2011
Do pets like me?

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).

Nele

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