When experienced housesitters Mike and Diane aka Travelloafers chose to apply for a Harrogate housesitting assignment on HouseSitMatch describing a resident ‘large dog’ that they’d be required to care for, they had no idea the fun that was in store for them. Read their blog to find out what happened when they met Rex!
HOUSESITTING TYRONAUSAURUS REX!
When considering a Harrogate housesitting assignment we were also considering a number of other options. Then we saw Rex’s picture and he drastically changed our plans. Funny how a dog can change everything. We had perused HouseSit Match for pet and housesit opportunities across Europe, but in the end we decided we’d live up to our name and be travel loafers throughout the UK in September.
But the devil fools with the best laid plans. When Rex’s owners approached us, we fell in love with this stunning, massive dog. He has to weigh 40 kilograms! After some discussion and messages with his owners, we were comfortable with the idea of keeping Rex company for ten days or so while his people enjoyed a holiday in Europe. Rex is a rescued Akita, and his owners obviously care a great deal about him. That much was obvious and it sold us on the idea.
MEETING REX – THE MEET AND GREET
Rex lives in the Yorkshire city of Harrogate. As Canadians we had never heard of it until we read about the housesit opportunity on HouseSitMatch. After reading up on the area, we were quite excited to be going. We left London’s King’s Cross station and were there in less than three hours by train and ready to start our Harrogate housesitting assignment.
We met up with Rex outside the house. Yep, he was huge. T-Rex! Given his background as a rescued dog, his owners were a bit concerned about how he might react to us, and perhaps a touch surprised that he took to us immediately. I like to think we have a way with animals. We’re comfortable with them and I think they sense that, whether they be cats and dogs, or donkeys and horses. We spent our first day settling in, getting to know his owners and the daily routines.
Our Harrogate housesitting post started well. The first night we were alone with Rex, he slept in his usual bed in the master bedroom. By the second night he was sleeping at the side of our bed in the guestroom. He enjoyed the love and attention we gave him. Having said this, being an Akita, he has a certain aloofness about him. As one friend of mine who has experience with Akitas told me, he understands you but he just doesn’t care. That sort of describes Rex. He thinks for himself and is a touch stubborn. But he has an endearing character. When he became playful at dinnertime, we wanted to squeeze him like a teddy bear. Long before we were to leave, we knew we’d miss this wonderful Akita.
Rex needed walking three times every day, that was a major requirement of our Harrogate housesitting assignment. He’s a senior so we weren’t about to break a sweat walking him. He stopped a lot along the way to leave his ‘calling card’ taking his time. No particular place to go and all day to get there. Akitas are large animals, so when Rex stopped, we stopped. When he decided on this or that direction, we had to follow.
We noticed how people reacted to him from our very first walk. Some made sure to cross the road from a block away in order to avoid him completely. Others made a point to come up and ask if he was friendly, taking a few moments to give him a pet and chat with us. He is a great conversation piece and we met several other Akita owners. I was left with the impression that owning an Akita is like being in a club. As for Rex, he was usually content with trotting along at his own pace, paying no mind to other people and dogs.
We never left the house without Rex, we felt that was important in this Harrogate housesitting assignment.
He led us along and he showed us Harrogate. There’s a huge green space known as The Stray that covers several city blocks, indeed several acres. The city is beautiful, lush and so very clean and green. The residents of Harrogate obviously take great pride in their small city. There are historic buildings and flowers everywhere. I have never seen so many roses in my life!
Rex took us to Valley Gardens, the crown jewel of Harrogate.
Valley Gardens is a large, well used public space featuring a wooded area, tennis courts, a play area for young children and their parents, a disc-golf course, a skate park, a cafe, a gazebo, and dozens of flower beds showcasing thousands of flowers and a variety or trees. English gardens are alive and well here. It also features the highest concentration of unique mineral springs in the world. Thirty six of them in this park alone.
HARROGATE HOUSESITTING – THE ROUTINE
When we were in Harrogate housesitting, and when we weren’t out walking and exploring we had a pleasant time staying in the house. There was an incredible library of books featuring dozens if not hundreds of spy thrillers starring Jason Bourne, George Smiley and Jack Reacher. I could have sat there for months!
The kitchen had a nifty feature that I hadn’t seen before. The tap offered hot and cold water of course. But also boiling water – instantly and right out of the tap.
Preparing coffee or tea or even water for cooking has never been more convenient. At first I thought a feature like that was a trinket or a gizmo. But after using it for a couple of weeks, I don’t know why this isn’t standard in all kitchens!
Hurricane Irma was all over the news, so for the first time in months we turned on the television. The contrast of what was around us compared to the devastation in Irma’s wake made us keenly aware of our good fortune of being here with Rex. To a large extent, pet and house sitting is what you make it. And in Harrogate it was easy to make the best of it.
I happened to be at the kitchen table by the back door when the owners returned late one night. Like all returning owners, they had a hopeful, yet apprehensive look in their eyes as they slipped their key into the lock. And like all returning owners stepping through the door, this becomes a sigh of relief when they realise everything is just the way it was the day they left. Rex slid off the sofa to greet his people. It always pulls at our heart strings to realise that our time is coming to an end and that the pets are always happy to reunite with their owners and have life return to normal.
Looking back, we were right. We do miss Rex. Thank you Peter and Dee for letting us look after your wonderful pet. And thank you for the nice review:
We were keen to find someone who could primarily look after our Akita dog (a rescue dog) as well as house sit. We found Travelloafers to be highly capable couple who made an immediate positive impact on our dog (and us of course!). Our neighbours have subsequently commented that he appeared to have settled very quickly and very well with them. While we were away they communicated regularly and in detail by email. We could also have used Skype but did not feel the need to do so. As well as caring for our Akita, they kept our house safe, clean and tidy. We highly recommended them.
If you are looking for a reliable couple to look after your pets and home, we will consider any situation whether it be a town home or a farm or what have you. All you need to do is contact us via Housesit Match.
Also, if you are considering booking a hotel room anywhere in the world (or B’n’B, or a hostel) visit our Travel Loafers website for the very best rates!
Dianne & Mike
To start your housesitting adventure or to find your housesitting solution register with HouseSitMatch:
To register as a House-sitter follow this link
To register as a Homeowner follow this link