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As much as we may love our homes and pets, there are times when we have no option but to leave them for certain periods. Sometimes we have to travel away from home for business or private reasons, where it is not possible for us to take our pets with us.
If you are suddenly called away from home because of a family emergency or unexpected business travel, you are left with the worry of leaving your home and pets unattended whilst you are away. This is obviously not a viable situation where animals are concerned, even for short periods, and it is not always possible to call on friends or family to ‘baby-sit’ at short notice. This is where house and pet sitters show their true value and professional services.
If you simply want someone to call at your house twice daily to turn lights on and off, and open and close curtains in order not to alert a potential burglar that your house is vacant, then a house sitter is the perfect choice. House-sitters will further assist in watering your plants, both indoor and outdoor, collect the post from the postbox, ensure that the electricity meter does not run down, carry out basic cleaning of the interior such as dusting and vacuuming, and any other tasks which need to be done.
The very fact that lights are seen in the house at night, curtains do not remain closed all day and there is a car in the driveway twice daily is often enough to indicate to a casual passer-by that the house will not be vacant during the night.
Animals, like humans, are emotional and have definite likes and dislikes. They stress when their routines are interrupted and often become frightened and anxious when taken away from their homes and put into unfamiliar environments, such as kennels, with other animals. Some animals become so stressed that they hide away and refuse to eat, leading to health problems. They do not know why they have been uprooted from their familiar surroundings and routines, which is distressing for everyone. If it is possible, it is better to bring in a house and pet sitter who will look after both your home and your beloved pets without the upheaval that visits to the kennels entail. It is not only cats and dogs which need to be cared for; many people keep birds such as cockatoos, budgies and parrots, and some dote on rabbits and guinea pigs or other small mammals. Even nowadays, some people keep home aquariums with tropical fish, which are, quite simply, not mobile.
My Dad had a small aquarium and whilst it provided a lot of joy to him, it also entailed a great deal of time cleaning it, and the fish had to be fed twice daily. Admittedly, it is not an easy task to find a facility which will cater for pets other than cats and dogs, so there is always the additional worry that these pets will not receive the care that they deserve.
So, what is the answer? Simple – bring in a pet-sitter who will be given full instructions on how to care for these delicate and beloved beings. Pet sitters are often very happy to live in the house during the time they take care of the owner’s pets, or may be only required to call at the house a couple of times during a 24 hour period. There is no set rule in this regard as it all depends on what the owner needs to have done, and how far the pet or house sitter will have to travel every day. It is an entirely individual choice. Some people do not like having strangers living in their homes, whilst others have no problem in this respect. If the animals in the house are used to having a lot of human companionship, it will be necessary for the pet-sitter to become a house-sitter and provide a continuous presence for those animals.
For the house-sitter, there are definite advantages in living in the house, such as not having to travel every day, perhaps being lucky enough during the hot summer months to be house-sitting where there is a swimming pool, having a change of scenery and the chance to explore the local area. It might also work out more economical for both parties, since there are no daily commute costs to be taken into account. A house and pet sitter is not confined to the house for 24 hours a day, and is still able to carry out personal tasks outside the house, and may even continue carrying out other pet-sitting jobs which only require short visits to the owners’ homes once or twice a day for feeding and exercise purposes. It’s a win-win situation for both the home-owner and the pet/house sitter!
People who carry out house and pet sitting jobs are very often given new clients through word-of-mouth referrals, which is ideal for the home and pet owner as they are taking on someone who they know is trustworthy to look after their most prized possessions, both material and living. However, it is always a personal choice when it comes to finding the right person. You will obviously look for someone who ‘gels’ with you and your pets, and who comes across as being caring, patient and trustworthy, but it always helps to have reviews from friends or colleagues where possible. If you look online for these services, you will find Uptasker an ideal aid as it lists in geographical areas so you can quickly find someone who is close to your location. Uptasker is also a great timesaver as it provides online ratings and customer reviews, as well as ‘one-click’ links to websites if these are available. The internet is providing more and more suppliers the opportunity to advertise their services to a wider audience, and is one of the most useful resources available. If this fails, then you can look for advertisements in newspapers, local publications, pet and dog/cat magazines, flyers and through checking public noticeboards in shops where people often put up adverts with tear-off sections providing their telephone numbers, which are very useful. You may also find business cards and flyers in pet shops and supply stores, as well as veterinary consulting rooms.
As with all service providers, it is preferable to find someone who you instinctively know is a good fit for your needs. Your animals, in particular, need to be comfortable and secure around the person who is going to be responsible for their care whilst you are away. Watch the interaction between your animals and the pet-sitter during the initial meeting. Use your judgement and do not employ someone who appears disinterested during the interview or who your pet appears to distrust or dislike. Pet intuition is an amazing indicator of someone’s character! If there are no pets involved, and the job is simply one of house-sitting and watering plants, etc., give clear written instructions on what you want done, or see if the applicant is taking notes, which usually indicates dedication to the tasks in hand. For more tips, see our house and pet sitter articles.
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