Every house sitting assignment is different and the tasks, requests and expectations depend on the house, the property, the owners and the pets. Some home owners require you to do yard maintenance, water the house plants or collect the mail; all of them, naturally, expect you to keep the house tidy and “return” it as clean as you found it or better. Usually there is at least one pet to take care of, which means setting food out once or twice a day, making sure the water bowl is always filled with clean water, taking the dog out for a daily walk, and sometimes administering medicines or brushing the animal. Although not every dog owner expects it, Mark and I have the tendency to shower dogs with love, attention and company. It goes without saying that a responsible house sitter is prepared to take the pets to the vet or emergency room when necessary and reports general issues back to the owners, while trying to fix or solve problematic situations.
House sitters usually follow a daily routine, especially when pets are involved. During our two week house sit in The Villages, Florida (which happened over the holiday period, when we anticipated to take some time off from work commitments) a usual day would look like this:
6am: one of the dogs enters our room, wondering whether we are ready to get up yet. Nope! He licks whatever body part he can reach from the side of the bed. We wake up sleepy, since during the night a few interruptions took place, where one of the two pups either shook their jingly collar, used the flapping doggy door, had an exciting dream chasing wildlife or produced a bark. Dog two enters and greets us wagging his tail. We send them back outside the room or on the ground, and snooze.
6:30am: Mark gets up and makes sure the dogs go out and do their business. Then, he starts work, followed by breakfast and his bathroom routine.
7am: my turn to get up and do some internet stuff, take a shower and have breakfast.
8:30am: we load the dogs into the owners’ truck and drive them to the Doggy Doo Run Run dog park, where we all exercise for about an hour. The humans walk a few times around a big field, while the off leash dogs sniff, play, run and “point” all over the place. When a dog does number two, we place a flag near the site. The monthly fee to visit this dog park means nobody has to clean up their dog’s poop; the owners of the park will do the honors. An interesting, yet in some ways faulty concept… Funny as well, unless your dog loves to eat poop!
10am: we feed the dogs – a mix of dry and wet food – and change their water bowls. They free feed during the day. We give them their Glucosamine tablets. We clean and tidy the house up, do some “dog” laundry if needed. One of the dogs lays down on his doggy bed, while the other follows us around like a shadow and relaxes wherever we end up – at a desk and the table to work.
12:30pm: lunch time for us and treats for the dogs, to encourage their good behavior of not begging at the table. We spend some time with them indoors and outdoors.
1:30pm: we email the home owners an update and go back to work for a couple of hours. The dogs have a doggie door to go out whenever they please or need to. We join them once in a while to play or cuddle.
3:30pm: based on the progress of our work day, we either continue being “boring” behind our computers, or we take advantage of being in a new place: we explore one of the village centers, go for a golf cart ride to a grocery store, indulge in one or two massage sessions on the state-of-the-art massage chair, take a dip in the pool or sweat in the hot tub.
5pm: happy hour! We take the golf cart to Sumter Landing and watch the retirees have fun line dancing while listening to live music, have a drink on “our” patio in the screened in lanai (“bird cage”) or at the outdoor fire pit, watching the sun go down, or we skip the drink all together.
6:30pm: dinner – cooking, eating, cleaning up
8pm: we watch some TV, just like many land-based people, and we enjoy the “novelty” of it. One of the dogs joins us on the bed.
10pm: “cruisers’ midnight”. We make sure the dogs have some food and clean water and hug them goodnight. We are tired and ready for bed, just like all the other residents of respectable age in this retirement community. 🙂 There are more parallels between The Villages and the cruising life than one would assume…