House sitting isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be!

Oh my God, my routine has been severely upset. I am a house sitter on the Sunshine Coast in QLD,

Oh my God, my routine has been severely upset. I am a house sitter on the Sunshine Coast in QLD, which usually requires me to mind animals, mostly cats or dogs, and maybe birds and fish, but generally I have plenty of time to do whatever I like. If there is no rain I water the garden and maybe pull a few weeds. I tend to pot plants. But my current housesit has bought up a huge new dilemma. They did not know the password to their Wi-Fi! No-one had ever asked for it before. The first thing I do when I arrive at a new housesit is get their Wi-Fi password and this had never been a problem before. My stay was only for eight days and I could use the owner’s computer so I could check my emails and Facebook. But I couldn’t play “Words with Friends”! I play it on my tablet, twice a day at least. With my morning coffee I play games with my English and American friends for at least an hour. It just depends if they respond immediately. Sometime during the late afternoon or evening I play with my Australian friends. I spend a minimum of two hours a day playing as I love the mental challenge it presents and it’s addictive. I sent emails to those I knew to let them know of my dilemma.

But this housesit presented some other wee problems. I had no idea how to use the front loader washing machine properly. I could only get it to work on a very short cycle so I resorted to using it twice. They left their car for me to use. It had a very odd dash board which did not show the speed or the fuel tank, maybe other things too. Why don’t they tell me these things!? I did not use it very much. I could not find a dustpan and brush so I swept dirt into a pile till the owners returned home.

The smallish local shopping centre was nearby with a tavern next to it. Excellent seniors meals! Quite a lot of food had been left for me to use up so I did not spend much time at the supermarket. The shopping centre had a liquor store so wine purchases were not a problem. The home owners are readers so I had plenty of magazines to peruse. It amazes me how many people do not have magazines and books in their homes! I found a Women’s Weekly crossword begging to be done. I spend very little time reading these days because of the above mentioned activities. I took photographs of the environment as I’m staying on a canal, and took several stunning sunset photos.

I had two very spoilt sheepdog-sized dogs and a cat to mind who all live inside. In the mornings if it was sunny I put them outside and shut the doors. There are plenty of glass doors so they can see me. One morning I opened the door to be greeted by only one dog. She was quite agitated so I did a hasty check. The other dog had gone. But how and where? I was totally baffled and freaking out wondering how to deal with this new problem when there was a knock at the front door. A neighbour who knows this dog often gets out, came to tell me she had seen her at the local shopping centre.

We did a lap of the car park in her car. This dog is very timid and will not let anyone near her  but fortunately she was happy to see me. I could not find a lead, but I had grabbed a snatch-it cord which did the job. When we returned home I growled at her. She shot out the back cat-door entrance and much to my amazement, wriggled through the bars on a fence to get in to the back yard. She is too big for either of these but she did it. I made some adjustments where I thought she may have gotten out then went out to the backyard. I could not believe my eyes ! She was sitting in the park next door watching me. I had no idea how she got there! I took her for a walk, I did not use the lead as it was not dog walking time so no other dogs to get distracted by. She got plenty of exercise running back and forth. For the rest of my weeks stay there were only supervised visits to the back yard.

Have you ever done a housesit? What happened?

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  1. Hi Jeanie, as an experienced housesitter I’m surprised you did not request the home owner to complete an information manual for their home, which would have included everything from Wifi Passwords to how appliances work. As you were having the use of their car asking them to give you a run through of “how it works” would have been useful, they may have taken it for granted that you were familiar with the make and model. Many home owners engaging experienced sitters take it for granted that we know everything, about every home including how TV and Audio system work (gone are the days of the simple on/off switch) my particular nemesis.

    From the moment I accept a house sit I communicate, communicate, communicate, helping steer the home owner through the process, especially if they are unfamiliar with what is expected that way when I arrive everything I need to know has either been documented in the manual or I have made notes myself.

    I also request they complete a Pet Profile Form, available on the housesitting platform I am a member of, this gives me all of the information I need to take care of their pets according to their habits and the owners instructions. When pets are used to living in doors I would keep them in their home but allow them free access to outside and of course follow their exercise routine, as instructed by the pet owners, perhaps changing their routine by restricting them access to their home contributed to their stress.

    Housesitting is an amazing travel lifestyle and has enriched my life beyond measure. It comes with great responsibility but affords incredible personal satisfaction, for me caring beloved pets gives me the greatest joy but as with all positions of responsibility requires common sense, planning and professionalism.

  2. Mahrukh  

    Hi Jeannie, I wonder if this is the first time the pet owners have had a sitter. Whenever I have housesat (I have done several!) I make sure that I have all the information that I need to make my stay comfortable and worry free, including contact numbers of family and friends whom I can contact if I need to. I do this before the owners have left and also have their contact details while they are away so I can ask questions and send them updates of their pets.

    As the main reason I have been appointed to housesit is to care for the pets, I make sure that I ask questions and make notes (if there aren’t any provided by the pet owner). The personality of the pets is vital information, how they are with people and other pets (eg. when taking them for a walk or to a doggy park), where they sleep, what they eat, what treats they are allowed, the vet details and how bills are settled in the event that I they may need a vet visit…anything really that I feel will help me keep the pets safe and happy and make my stay fun too.

    All in all, I have enjoyed many years of house and pet sitting and I hope that you too will have similar wonderful experiences. I find the experience wonderful on so many levels – wonderful pets, homeowners who are now friends, new environments and experiences. I know I will have to settle down one day but it is difficult to do this while I am still having so much fun 🙂

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