This is the second blog in my series “A Day in the Life of a House Sitter”. The first one described an average day during our two week house sit in The Villages, FL last December.
House sitters can mostly stick to their own schedule while taking care of somebody’s home while the owners are on holiday, a sabbatical or a business trip. As long as the owners’ pets have a happy life, while they are away. The pets – two dogs and two parrots here in Kent– are our priority. Of course, we also watch the house, run a few errands and communicate with the owners about anything that comes up or needs attention. Most of the time, we live our own lives in our “borrowed” home and enjoy the company of our “borrowed” pets. In our current situation, we also appreciate the inspiring vibe created by the home owners, who are accomplished and well-known artists. I will get to that in a future blog…
7am: Loud and shrill noises reach us upstairs. The birds are singing their morning songs, or better, sharing their rants. We open our eyes and see that it is light outside. We never close the curtains as to wake up with the sun, just like on the boat. The birds make sure we never oversleep and are better and funnier (and sometimes more annoying) than an alarm clock. Time to get up! But first, I snuggle a bit with Henry and Mickey, while Mark takes a shower.
7:15am: As Mark lets the dogs outside for their morning business, gives them fresh water and feeds them a mixture of dry and wet food, it is my turn to use the bathroom. Usually, I linger a bit longer in bed, checking my iPad for all “the news”, before jumping out.
8am: Mark has eaten breakfast and starts work in the office. It really is time for me to get out of the comfy bed!
8:15am-9:15am: I drink my glass of orange juice and prepare some fruit for the birds. I let Tutu out of her cage, wipe her bowl, change her water, add some new bird food in the other bowl and replace the newspaper on the bottom of her home. Every few days, I wash the bowls out with detergent and remove hidden food and feathers that collect under the paper. Tutu hangs out on top of her cage or ventures into the kitchen and the hallway. Sometimes, she attacks my feet or my head. I put her back with thick gloves when she starts pecking the baseboards or tries to open the TV cabinet with her pointy beak. Or, she climbs back in herself once I add the pieces of mandarin, apple and banana to her food.
Soon, it is Koo Koo’s turn to be free. I have to be quick now. I unlatch his door and he pushes it open with his feet, while following his beak out of the cage. I wipe his bowl, change his water and food, add the fruit and stuff the dirty newspaper into the trash can. By then, Koo Koo has flown upstairs and Mickey follows him, barking like crazy. I add new paper onto the bottom tray, slide it back and rush upstairs. There, I watch Koo Koo walk the hallway, praise himself with “Good boy, Koo Koo,” play with his toy and curiously explore that level of the house. My main reason to be up there with him is to prevent more damage to the baseboards. His interest for them seems to have weaned and, if necessary, a “No!” is usually all it takes to keep him from using his beak again. Sometimes, he joins me for breakfast, Kellogg’s K Red Berries being his favorite cereal. Over the weeks, different tactics have proven successful and unsuccessful to put him back in his cage. He prefers being unrestrained! I sweep around the cages and leave the kitchen area.
9:30am -12:30pm: I am settled behind my computer as well to work on my book or other online projects. Henry and Mickey keep Mark company under his desk upstairs, while the parrots try their best to distract me from any task at hand, in the next room over. When the commotion is too much, I move into the kitchen. They like having people around and I like it quiet when I write; my relocation is a win-win situation!
12:30pm-1:30pm: lunch time and a favorite moment of the pets with goodies all around. Mark and I have our sandwiches, Mickey and Henry receive their half a slice of baloney and a few treats, Tutu and Koo Koo happily await a nut in the shell, a pretzel or a piece of matzo (Koo Koo is the more picky of the two). Their new favorite: greasy soup crackers from the take-out Chinese. They flap their wings, stick their head through the bars of the cage or return home immediately to score one of those! Mark lets the pups out, while I clean up.
1:30pm –6pm: Mark and I return to our work environment, once in a while taking a break to cuddle with the dogs and talk and pet the birds, giving an extra treat where appropriate. When the weather is nice, we take Henry and Mickey for a walk through the forested property and up to “the camp”, an extensive state-of-the-art summer camp for kids that is unused this time of the year. The dogs love to run around there and it is good exercise for us as well.
6pm: we relax and prepare dinner together, while the dogs wait anxiously for some food to fall onto the kitchen floor. Their patience rarely pays off and after a while, Henry usually gives up and gets back on the couch.
7pm-8pm: dinner time for the humans and treats for the well-behaved of the animals.
8pm: after clean-up, we usually go down to the basement to watch our current favorite series on Netflix or one of the movies from the owners’ great DVD collection. Back upstairs, we take the dogs out one last time.
10pm: we finish the day with a doggy snuggle and our iPads, after making sure every pet in the house has fresh water and receives a sweet goodnight scratch.
Every few days, we clean Mickey’s eyes, give the dogs a brushing and drive into Kent and/or South Kent to pick up the mail and packages.
When we hang out on the main floor during the evenings and the weekends, we let Koo Koo out of his cage, so he can join us.
A decent grocery shopping spree happens every other week. We run the owners’ car and their back-up generator once a month and deal with unexpected issues whenever they arise.
During the weekend, we bring the garbage and recyclables to the collection center of Kent. It is a quick and painless event that we try to combine with another activity, like going hiking in one of the state parks or natural reserves in the area.
During this mild winter, we have been lucky with the weather to set out on a walking adventure almost every weekend. The dogs love it as much as we do! We will miss these sweethearts when our assignment is over in ten days…