Canada- this is for you. USA- yes it’s for you too. Europe? Yes – you as well. Australians – not sure – try it and let me know! And England and the UK… it’s for you and by you… so thank you!
Many of you cat-lovers find yourselves in the same situation as J and I do. We’d love to travel – visit family who are not close, or go on a week’s vacation, or explore a new country – but a huge concern and hurdle is what we’d do with our kitties.
There is no doubt in my mind that cats would be happiest at home. Cats are so location and habit-bound – it is inherent in their nature. So what do you do? Ask neighbours to drop by? Do you hire a visiting pet-sitter? Someone to stay in-home and provide company as well – despite the costs? Beg family or friends for a big fat favour?
In the past we’ve done a number of these things – and combinations. No one choice or combo was satisfying and the right fit.
We used to have the most amazing pet sitter: a man who was incredibly reliable, a life-long animal-lover who managed a pet store for some time – someone trained and certified in pet first-aid as well as bonded with insurance. He was a dream to work with and worth his weight in gold. He was the person who gave the meds to Nuala’s littermates and mom when we needed to go away. Not everyone can find someone as great as Keill. I wish everyone could – and frankly I will be forever thankful to him for the care he gave our furry friends – fosters and pets.
When he retired, things went sideways. I called and tried out a number of ‘services’. None were even close to as good as what we’d had. Some were late. Some were dodgy. And the one that did me in was listed as a reputable agency for the whole area, but up-charged ‘distance’ to come to our centrally-located home, failed to provide me with the documents promised, showed me expired liability insurance, and told me that my business was not wanted by them when I asked for their updated liability insurance. What a nightmare! I wish I reported this to the BBB.
No wonder home-owners and pet-lovers are so afraid to leave their homes and pets. We’ve barely been away this past 3 years. Cooper is definitely not used to having us away.
But sometimes life offers you wonderful opportunities for experiences… so if that involves going away, what do you do? I ran into this 8 weeks ago. I had 4 weeks to make pet-arrangements and leave on a two week dream-trip.
Years ago a friend told me about a service she used to leave her cats when she was going on vacation. The prospect seemed interesting but I had concerns. I noted the site, and put it aside. Now, I questioned her and perused the site a number of times. I spent a day looking around, considering their ads, FAQ, as well as the postings I could see, and then discussing it with J. I decided to move ahead – and pay to join this pet-sitting service: if I got one good week of pet-sitting in the year, then it would be worth the $130Cnd membership price.
The premise is simple – and also simply genius. Willing pet sitters offer to care for your animals and home for free while you are away. You offer them a nice place to stay. You gain house/pet sitting services and they gain free accommodation. Your pets get long hours (not just a quick visit) of care and play each day while your house is not visibly vacant, but occupied. They get a free comfortable and clean home to stay in – while they might be traveling to a city they’ve always wanted to see. It’s an idea born out of the ‘sharing culture’ – a bartering of services.
Yes it’s FREE beyond the annual membership fee. Both sides don’t charge for anything.
I’m a very private person and this would not be 100% comfortable for me. It would feel very strange having people I barely know coming to stay in my house – sleeping in my bed and cooking with my pots and pans. But having my home and kitties cared for by other ‘proven’ animal lovers was a prospect I couldn’t ignore.
I paid and began working on our profile: I was rushed since my time was so tight before departure. I had just 3.5 weeks to post our ‘home/cat sit’, get applications from those interested, respond and review candidates, and make the final arrangements. A second worry for me was that I’m in suburbia – and thought I’d post my home/cat sit and perhaps get no responses because no one would want to come – or the site wouldn’t have enough people on it to generate house-sitters for me.
There were three sections to the profile; an intro, about the home and area, and about the responsibilities and pets. I knew that people wouldn’t know anything about me, my home, or my cats, so I had to be clear with our expectations, the duties involved, and also be honest but ‘sell’ our home as a great place to be. (I mentioned that I was nervous that I’d get no responses to my post, right?) The best way for me to do this was to think of why I loved my house and living here – and convey that.
I posted my profile on the site that same day. I set up the dates I wanted for our cat-sit the next day when my profile went ‘live’. This process took time, and frankly there were a number of actions on the site that didn’t seem intuitive. I had to send the company a couple of messages for things I couldn’t figure out on my own. They provide a live chat – but they are in the UK and off-times for me here. So they responded by e-mail and I found this helpful.
I’m going to write this in two parts… more tomorrow… only because I’m tired and I’m starting to realize just how long my post will be.
The website? https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/su/WxumAgrh
I can offer you this – the link above is my ‘friends and family referral’ and what that means is that if you decide to sign up with Trusted Housesitters, you’ll get 20% off the price I paid to join. Or use this code at check-out for the same results: RAF218163. And, I’ll get 2 free months of service on their site when the code is used – so thanks in advance. Membership is for a year of using the site – as many pet sits as you want. I didn’t have a referral, so I paid full price.
They are not paying me to write this – 0 kickbacks and just my honest experience. Though if they decide to give me free extended membership, I’d be a fool to refuse.