House sitting sounds easy enough – who can’t look after 3 dogs and 4 chickens on a gorgeous country property?
The problem lies in the constant tension created when you are not sure of things. Why is the dog biting himself? Why is that chicken not moving? What if that had just caught on fire? What if one of the dogs gets run over? Where is this? Where is that? Driving up and down trying to find the recycle bins, or looking for a can opener for an hour. Breaking something, however small, even a glass...
What if it was her favourite glass or vase? What if one of the dogs steps in the glass?!
It’s the way your heart jumps when you see something like this…
Looking after someone’s animals is a lot like looking after their children; they are precious. And you are responsible for them. That can be quite a burden.
While the pros of house sitting are compelling, the cons may have more impact than one might suspect. Responsibility can be a heavy weight.
Of course there was a list of instructions, and phone numbers, and the vet’s address, and emergency contacts, but it’s still a bit nerve-wracking.
T feels an intense sense of responsibility in this situation. This is a good thing, but then it’s no fun at all for him. I tend not to worry as much, telling myself the old saying, “99% of what we worry about never happens, and the other one percent we can handle.”
One other issue for me though, was being cold. No central heating is common in Europe. Electricity is very expensive. Who thinks of these little things ahead of time? The best thing on earth, I discovered, next to remote car starters, is a heated mattress cover, like on our bed at this house sit, and it was the only way I could warm up sometimes on cold mornings or early evenings.
To be fair, it was perfect weather: sunny, clear blue skies, temperatures 23 to 28 degrees C during the afternoons, but nights and mornings were cool, averaging about 16 C. Even if they have it, Europeans often don’t use central heating, or at least they turn it off in Spring to save on electricity costs.
It’s easy to say “nothing to worry about”, when you’re house sitting, but I only realized after we left that it was quite a release of pressure, not to have to worry about the dogs and the chickens and the house, and if we did everything properly. Now we could relax and start our new travel adventures.
Still house sitting was also a great experience, and we loved the dogs to pieces. They are definitely lovable dogs, more so than most dogs, and we’ll miss them. The big house and flowering gardens and winding river were absolutely lovely and we truly enjoyed them every day.
House Sitting created a perfect opportunity for us to explore the countryside on day trips in every direction, to discover new places, and have a home base to return to, rather than seeking out hotels.
Of course it also saved us money in an expensive country because we didn’t need to find accommodation, and we bought groceries and ate most of our meals at home. Eating out can be expensive.
We didn’t have to unpack and re-pack for several weeks, or drag luggage around, and we had the convenience of Wifi on a daily basis.
The neighbors were friendly and helpful. The community was accepting and it was easy to live like a local and experience the real culture.
The dogs were well-behaved at home, and the unconditional love and affection of animals is well-known as therapeutic for all that ails one.
Yes, there are many advantages to house sitting. It’s the little things you worry about that can be stressful. Overall, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. What we won’t miss is the serious responsibility for someone else’s cherished animals, but it was a wonderful opportunity to try something new, and perhaps we’ll give house sitting another try one day.
Now it was on to amazing new adventures travelling through Provence, the Cote D’Azure and the French Riviera.
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