About a year ago, we ran out of people to impose Kebab our Corgi upon while we travel. Family and friends had all done their duty, with greater and lesser enthusiasm.
Believing him to be about the cutest dog on the planet, I’m surprised people are not hopping the ferry and beating a path to our rural doorstep to be in his presence. To simply absorb his darshan, they should pay us for the privilege, but there’s no accounting for some people…
Apparently, people have jobs, and landlords, and, well, lives! We understand that, and we appreciate them for all the times they have taken care of him. Thank you, everyone!
While we do like to bring Kebab with us on roadtrips, since he really is a very good little traveler, we then have to get accommodation where a dog is allowed and usually pay an extra pet fee. We then can’t just stop into stores, museums or restaurants at will because we can’t bring him inside and we can’t lock him in a hot car. Compromises, compromises.
The Win-Win-Win Solution
We were getting close to our trip to Europe last fall, and had importuned everyone we could think of to no avail. Fortunately, someone in my Pilates class suggested we join TrustedHousesitters. This is an online membership platform where people who need trustworthy petsitters or housesitters can post their needs to people who want to visit places around the world and experience local living, in exchange for taking care of their pets. The stay is free, the petsitting is free. You can have as many sits during the year as you want. Petsitters can do as many sits as they’re accepted for.
A membership costs $119 USD per year. You’d pay more than that to put your animals in a kennel or pay a professional to take care of your Fido or Fifi for a weekend. Moreover, your pets get to stay in their familiar surroundings and won’t be exposed to kennel cough or other illnesses. And somebody gets a nice, free place to stay while they enjoy your area. Happy pets, happy owners, happy sitters.
An Excellent Experience Each Time
Our experiences so far with TrustedHousesitters:
A world-traveling British family took care of Kebab and got to thoroughly explore the Olympic Peninsula with him, while we explored the Basque country of France and Spain.
A nice woman from the next county over got to enjoy our strawbale house for a weekend while we attended a sudden funeral in California.
A French/American couple got to take a break from RV living and enjoy full mod-cons along with doggie darshan, while we met up in San Francisco with our friends that we’d met in Laos.
Each time, our house is as clean or cleaner than when we left it, and Kebab was happy to see us, but not desperate as though he’d been neglected. (How could anyone neglect that smile anyway?) You feel as though the sitters appreciate your home and your animal.
Trust, But Verify
Just as with Airbnb, Uber, eBay or other online platforms where trust matters, petsitters are reviewed by pet owners, and petsitting situations are reviewed by sitters. There are also levels of verifications from basic to advanced:
“For everyone’s safety and peace of mind, as well as their pet care credentials, all sitters have access to verification. Sitters can choose from varying levels of verification including criminal background checks, government I.D verifications, and I.D document checks. To see what level of verification a sitter has achieved, just take a look at the Trust Badge on their profile.” — from the TrustedHousesitters website
Our first time, we skyped with the applicants so we could all get a sense of each other (they were in Mexico at the time.) The other times, we met the sitters some days in advance to show them around and see how our dog liked them.
Even if you don’t have animals, having a housesitter gives you peace of mind. It keeps your home from looking empty and ripe for burglars. If something goes wrong — a burst pipe or something like that, somebody is on hand to deal with it or at least keep you informed.
Upgrade and Find Petsits For Yourself
We have signed up to be able to petsit in the French Pyrenees on our next trip. To be able to sit and be sat costs an additional $29. It’s a bit early, so we haven’t found the right situation yet, but it should be an excellent way to test out living in another country, as I am keen to live in southern France for awhile. Staying in someone’s home and interacting with the local community gives a wholly different experience than staying in hotels or hostels.
It will also make our trip much cheaper, since accommodation is the biggest expense of our travels. I’m hoping to find a catsit there, since I have always been a cat-person, but Kebab isn’t having any of that. Some of the situations available have multiple animals, including farm animals. So if you are a horse person, here’s your chance to borrow a horse to ride…
I can vouch for our experience with the platform and with each of our sitters. It has allowed us to be able to take trips long and short, and know that our home is safe and our dog is happy.
If you may need a sitter sometime, click on one of the links in this post and check it out. You can peruse the bios of lots of good responsible people ready to take care of your place and your animals.
Or maybe you want to do a sit on your next trip and live like a local. There are condos, chateaux and farmhouses. Fancy places and humble, some even with pools or other amenities. Scattered all over the planet. The world is your oyster.
And if you’re tired of feeling guilty for refusing when your animal-encumbered friends importune you…send them here to read this post!