April – July 2016 – A simple Chicago house sit for a house being sold

2016-04-27 11.40.42After we left Italy, we travelled across the ocean to Chicago in the USA, for a very simple sit as there were no pets involved, we just needed to make sure that the property was kept in a good condition as it was up for sale and needed to be viewed by potential buyers.

When viewings took place we needed to make sure that the property was clean and tidy, all lights switched on, all air conditioning on and we needed to be out of the property for viewers to be able to come and go as they pleased.

It was a very easy sit to manage in a lovely area surrounded by wildlife, and provided the opportunity for us to be in the US for our first stateside 4th July celebration!

January & February 2016, Two visits to Guildford to look after Piper the Bichon Frise & Moet the cat

2016-02-13 09.12.16Before our return to Italy, we were asked to do two separate stints looking after an adorable Bichon Frise called Piper, and a cat called Moet in Guildford in the UK.

The house was a gorgeous 6-bedroomed detached property, with a huge garden, although we spent most of our time in the guest room where we were staying.

Piper was an absolute delight to look after, she was affectionate and playful, and her recall when going for walks was brilliant. I took her each day up to the dog park up the road, and nothing made her more happy than finding other puppy friends to run and play with.

She pretty much never left my side while we were there, and would often come with me if I went to visit friends or out for the day. Moet on the other hand often kept to herself (mainly because if she was around Piper would try and encourage her to play, which she wasn’t really up for!), but would appear every now and again for a stroke and a cuddle.

Piper was a lot of fun, but was also happy to amuse herself if you were busy with something for a short while. We loved our time in Guildford, and especially looking after Piper, who was pure joy on four legs!

January 2016, A 3-bedroom house in Bedford with a trio of unexpectedly friendly cats!

2016-01-17 12.09.12Unfortunately in January 2016 Claire was very unwell, but our next house sitting assignment turned out to be perfect for the situation. Paul began the sit solo (as Claire was unable to travel), and then Claire joined him a couple of days later.  When we arrived we were told that the three feline residents can sometimes be wary of strangers, so we were told not to be surprised if they kept their distance for a while.

Well contrary to expectations, we seemed to hit it off very well with Maverick, Goose and the youngest Winnie. The first day that Claire arrived, she had plenty of cat-shaped company curled up in bed with her, and having found Mavericks kryptonite (aka belly rubs), he was a permanent resident for cuddles!

All three cats were a little mischievous, often going into the one room in the house that they weren’t allowed in (the owner had a beauty room and kept it cat-free in case of client allergies) as the door didn’t shut properly. Luckily Paul was there with his DIY expertise and managed to fix the door in order that they couldn’t get in without learning how to turn the handle (which they hadn’t mastered by the time we left!)

Winnie was highly entertaining, always getting into bags and small spaces, and following Maverick around trying to pounce on him! Even though it was only a short sit, we really enjoyed our time there.

 

Christmas & New Year 2015-16, A beautiful farmhouse in Crowborough with Humby and Purdey

2015-12-31 10.39.41For the festive season we were back in the UK at a beautiful farmhouse in Crowborough where we were kept company by Humby an older terrier and Purdey a black labrador and a selection of fish that needed to be fed.

The house was set in a huge area of land surrounded by woodland, a river and a wild boar farm! The owners parents lived in the cottage next door, so we offered to help them out if they needed any assistance while we were there too.

The dogs needed a couple of decent walks a day, and with the time of year it was definitely time for welly boots! We walked through many a mud-field on our daily treks around the woods.

We needed to be careful with Humby around other dogs as she suffered from what we’ve come to affectionately name terrier-itis (otherwise known as not so sociable with other dogs!), but as long as she was handled firmly on the lead, she was fine. Purdey was a typical lab, so we needed to be mindful of her around food, but aside from that all she wanted was lots of love and affection. And we were always highly entertained at feeding time as Purdey’s jumping to try and see the food that was on the way made it look like she’d smuggled in a small trampoline! 🙂

They seemed to thoroughly enjoy the Christmas treats we bought for them (having checked with the owners first that they were happy for us to do so), and munched their way through them happily on Christmas morning! …and they enjoyed joining Claire for her morning yoga routine!

We loved our stay in the area, surrounded by wildlife (Christmas morning we were greeted by a herd of wild deer in the garden!) and the dogs seemed to be very happy with our stay!

November 2015 & February 2016, A Riverside House in Yalding with Pippa the Golden Retriever

2015-12-13 07.15.42In between our sits in Italy we did several assignments in the UK. Our first was at a lovely riverside house in Yalding looking after the gorgeous golden retriever Pippa.

It’s fair to say that Pip was definitely part of the family in this household and was almost as much a person as anyone else! She curled up with us on the couch of an evening, and even came and laid on the bed when we were reading in the mornings. She was a very affectionate dog that we loved sitting for.

We took her for two walks every day, and had to be on the look out with food, as (being a retriever!) she was always looking for more.  She was a wonderful companion although she never seemed to be able to figure out whether she wanted to be inside or outside the back door…and we were up and down several times an evening to let her in and out!

She also insisted on joining in my yoga sessions each morning, and made her presence known (and would often lean until she got a stroke!)

We loved this sit, and the homeowners were so pleased with us that they not only asked us to come back, but when our availability didn’t quite match up, they arranged family to cover the bit we couldn’t do as they were so happy with us as sitters that they preferred to have us to do what we could than find other sitters who could do the whole sit, which we were very honoured by.

July 2015 – April 2016, Three Different Stints at a Villa in Italy

2016-04-05 08.40.40For our next house sitting assignment, we drove from the south of Spain all the way down to the south of Italy to the beautiful town of Ostuni.  Here we did several sits over the next 9 months in a lovely 3 bedroom villa, with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.

Although there were no animals at the sit, the owners of the property encouraged us to feed the local stray cats if we wanted, and a lovely local cat that we nicknamed ‘Blue’ because of her gorgeous blue eyes adopted us and came to visit almost every day. She was very friendly and enjoyed a quick stroke when she came by, but preferred to stay outside rather than come in. We also had a variety of local neighbourhood cats come and stop by. We also made friend with the very friendly German Shepherd who lived next door!

As the homeowner was a gardening fan, we needed to keep a watchful eye on the various plants and trees while we were there, this included picking persimmons from their trees, picking capers from the bushes around the property and making sure that everything was well watered through the summer months.

As it was a long-term sit, the most important thing was making sure that the property was returned to the precise condition that the owners had left it. As we always take photos of each room of the property when we arrive, we were able to make sure that every single item in the house was exactly where it had been when we arrived. The owners were very happy and appreciated the attention to detail in how we reset the property when they returned.

June 2015, A house in Murcia, Spain with 4 dogs, a cat and a bird

2015-06-01 10.43.11For our next house sitting assignment, we drove from the UK down to the south of Spain to look after a lovely collection of animals for another couple who were using housesitters for the first time.

As usual, the biggest concern for the home owners was making sure that their animals were well looked after while they were gone, and we had some medical and dietary needs to look after while we were there.

Marron and Nigrita were both lovely dogs to look after, and very simple in their requirements, they just needed feeding twice a day and a short walk in the evening around the property with the others.  Zara was a little food-seeking ninja who appeared behind anyone who opened the fridge door in case anything happened to fall out in her direction. Being 16 she had some minor medical challenges meaning that she was on medication twice a day.  Dumpie was diagnosed with some significant heart problems before we arrived, and as a result was not keen on eating. The owners told us that there were some days where he pretty much ate nothing. Claire decided to do everything she could to encourage him to eat, and twice a day could be found sat on the kitchen floor with him hand feeding him ham and sausages to try to tempt him to eat something. Most days she managed to get him to have a small meal, and we noticed a major difference in his temperament when his tummy was fully stoked.

In addition to the dogs we had Charley the cat to look after who enjoyed warming Paul’s seat for him for every meal and Jaapie the bird who (as with most birds) could be a little temperamental with new people!

The sit was incredibly enjoyable and most evenings were spend on the sofa surrounded by a collection of animals all wanting to cuddle up with us.  The owners were very happy as we provided regular updates on ‘foodwatch’ for Dumpie so they could stay up to date with his progress while they were away.

May 2015, Another luxury villa in Brazil that wasn’t supposed to have any animals…

2015-04-12 06.07.11After a short stay in one luxury villa in Brazil, having got to know the owner of another property on the same complex we did another assignment for him.

This assignment was very simple, looking after the four bedroom property with, swimming pool and jacuzzi, and overseeing the groundskeeper and housekeeper. There weren’t supposed to be any pets for us to look after, but we soon became a visiting ground for the local animals! The two dogs from our previous house sit became regular visitors as they obviously missed us, the condominium’s security guard’s dog popped by on a regular basis and a couple of stray cats the owner had befriended even decided to stop by on occasion too.

April 2015, A luxury villa in Brazil with Scooby and Tasha the dogs

2015-04-18 05.44.33For our next house sitting assignment, we looked after a huge luxury villa in Brazil with space for 18 people, swimming pool, jacuzzi, 2 dogs to look after and staff to oversee.

Our two canine friends here were a pleasure to look after. Scooby was the best guard dog around, ensuring we were aware of any new people approaching the property and never leaving Claire’s side when Paul was not at home. He was a gorgeous, huge labrador, who was really a big softie underneath that loved having his belly rubbed.  Tasha was an 8-month old puppy who was full of beans and always looking for the next adventure.  She was great company and loved lots of strokes and attention.

In addition to the dogs, we also oversaw the groundskeeper George, and the housekeeper Joseletta making sure their jobs were fulfilled, although they were both excellent workers and needed little input from us!

Feb-Mar 2015, An award winning bed & breakfast in Glastonbury with guests and two parrots

2015-03-11 18.32.10Our next assignment was an award-winning 6 bedroom bed and breakfast in Glastonbury with a plethora of wild animals to feed and two domestic parrots.  The owners of the bed and breakfast were going away for a well-deserved break from running this busy business, and needed someone who could keep things ticking over while they were away.

The responsibilities of the bed and breakfast were to welcome and ensure that all guests to the bed and breakfast were taken care of, checking them in and out and being available to help with any questions or challenges they had during their stay, and also to answer the phones, take messages and correspond with the owners while away to help with future bookings and managing the diary. We also needed to oversee and pay the cleaning staff as well as doing a bit of shopping to top up the organic supplies for the guest breakfasts, and other items for feeding the wild animals.

In addition to the bed and breakfast, there were plenty of animals at the property who needed some care and attention. Upstairs in the owners area were two parrots, Honey and Robbie, who were an absolute pleasure to look after. Having been informed that Robbie isn’t very social and Honey tends to not take to new people, Claire was very surprised when she flew immediately onto her shoulder and started giving her kisses on the cheek!  There were also many wild bird in the garden that needed feeding daily and a collection of badgers who we fed each night. It was a delight to sit in the dining area of an evening and watch the black and white little friends come out to get their dinner.

“Thank you for being so efficient, I feel I can relax knowing our somewhat complex house sitting is in good hands, your finger is definitely on the pulse.” – Cheryl, Glastonbury