In this 2022 Housesit Match Blog Competition entry by Annette Foster you will learn about the first housesitting experience of a single empty nester ready for travel. During her petsitting assignments Annette learned that she loved affordable travel by petsitting and reignited her love of animals. Read on to learn how she cared for pets on her new housesitting adventures around the UK. The theme of this year’s blog competition was ‘Tell us about a fun housesit you did recently’…
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‘My first housesitting experience‘
Blog Competition Entry – by Annette Foster
I was at a crossroads in my life. I had reached my mid-fifties and the big 60 was looming fast.
Too young to retire but I had had enough of constantly working part-time in a job I did not enjoy. It no longer excited me. I felt I needed something in my life but what?
My three adult children had flown the nest. I had been raising them for what seemed like a lifetime as a single parent.
Tripped across housesitting on social media
On my social media feed something popped up to do with house sitting, never heard of it but I was intrigued.
I started to follow a few people on social media who were house and pet sitting. Their lives looked interesting. They did unusual things, went to new and interesting places. I have never wanted to do the normal things in life, and have always strived to do something different to everyone else. Housesitting appealed to me.
A love of pets
Throughout my entire childhood and well into my married life I had kept pets. When I was living with my now ex-husband I had kept dogs. But when my marriage ended animals were the last thing on my mind, it was a struggle to bring up three children as a single mum, without bringing pets into the mix.
I joined a website where you exchange pet and house sitting for accommodation without really knowing what I was doing. But somehow something inside me said ‘just do it!’ Then I applied for a sit.
It was for a dog; I knew about dogs. And to my surprise I was accepted.
We had a WhatsApp video call, and all was good. It was in Buckinghamshire. This was an area I had not been to before.
I Googled the area, found some places to visit. I am a National Trust member and love wandering around old houses and museums. Without too much effort I had an itinerary all planned.
Then five days before the sit was going to start, I received a message from the pet owner saying how sorry she was, but she had to cancel her holiday as she had no visas in place which she needed, but that her travel agent had neglected to explain was essential for her trip. This meant that she no longer needed me.
She was devastated, I was devastated.
I actually cried. I thought maybe this is not meant to be. Maybe this pet sitting thing was not for me.
However, I gathered my thoughts and the next day I went back to the website and found another sit for the same time that I should have been Buckinghamshire.
This housesit was in Warwickshire. I thought I would keep it simple. I applied to care for an older cat, just a few hours’ drive from my home.
To my surprise I was accepted. This sit was in three days’ time.
I asked would they like to do a video call; the reply was, no it’s fine.
First housesitting experience
I set off that morning and arrived at the house by lunchtime. The owners were a young couple and were lovely. I explained that this was my first sit and to my surprise they said this was their first time using a sitter.
They showed me around their home. How to work the oven, how to turn the television on. They gave me the Wi-Fi code was. They were very organized. We talked about what their cat needed. Then 45 minutes later, they left and I was housesitting.
I just stood there for a few minutes, what had just happened. Looking around me, I realised this was my home for the next five days. I heard a meow, the cat brushed around my ankles. I was his step-mum for the next few days. He relied on me for food, water, to give him a clean toilet area and of course give him love and affection.
Oddly I could not believe I was in someone else’s house, someone else’s home. I was left on my own with someone else’s possessions.
I had never met these people until 45 minutes ago. What trust… but that’s housesitting, one favour for another.
What should I do first..?
I stood there I someone else’s lounge, stunned. Then after a few minutes I gathered my senses and thought, right well here goes. I unloaded the car with my suitcase and some food I had bought with me, and settled in.
I sat on the sofa after unpacking and after I had made myself some lunch. The cat I was caring for came and sat on my lap and tucked himself in. At that moment I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Touring while housesitting
The next day I went out for a few hours and had a look around the local area. There was a National Trust property a mile up the road and wandered around the house and grounds at leisure.
By early afternoon I was back at my temporary home, and my newest friend was there to greet me.
Befriending the pets
Over the course of the next five days, I went out and explored a few more times and had a few days where I never left the house. I felt happy and content.
Then suddenly the end of my first sit had arrived. I took off my bed sheets and put them through the wash. Cleaned the house and tidied up. Emptied the litter tray one last time and gave a final cuddle to my new best friend.
The owners arrived back at the time we had agreed, and we had a change-over chat. And not wanting to overstay my welcome I left shortly after.
I arrived back home unpacked again. I sat and thought about this experience I had just encountered. To my surprise I had really enjoyed it.
I was back on the website that evening looking for my next sit.
Making new friends while housesitting
The woman I was originally going to housesit for in Buckinghamshire is still in touch. We message each other once a week and have become good friends even though I still have never sat for her. It’s a lovely way to meet people.
My next sit was booked for three months later, this was for two dogs and two cats. Had I exceeded my limit in terms of pet care? Would I be able to cope with four animals? No. Actually this sit and the responsibilities just seemed to come naturally. Then I did a few more almost back-to-back, meeting new people with each housesitting, making new friends. These housesits were more local so I was able to continue with my part-time work.
Then I reached my decision to give up work and become a full-time pet sitter, to travel around the UK. All this from my first housesitting.
What my first housesitting experience gave me
My experience of pet sitting has changed my life. It’s fun. Moreover, it was a new discovery, something I did not even know was ‘a thing’ a few years ago.
Being single it has given me that purpose in life again. It’s given me the confidence to try something new and to travel on my own. Who knows how long I will continue to do this, but at the moment life is good.
Why would pet owners put their pets in kennels when they can leave them in their own environment and have lots of love and affection from us housesitters.
AUTHOR – Annette Foster
Hi, I am Annette. Being single I found pet sitting was a great way of travelling on a budget. And looking after pets gives me company.
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