Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Rocklin, CA: October 14th, 2016 – January 10th, 2017

After every house sit Mark and I finish, I write a quick overview for my “Completed House Sits” category. This allows readers to get a feel for our particular assignments and offers potential home owners insights into how we would function in their home, and care for their sweethearts. It also brings conclusion for me, saying goodbye to our temporary pet(s) and the place we called home for a bit.

For this three-month house and pet sit in Rocklin, California, Mark and I drove across the country and left the New England area indefinitely. I recently wrote about a typical day in our lives as house sitters in Rocklin, so I won’t repeat myself. We enjoyed our stay in a comfortable house with all the amenities we could wish for and in the company of a great pooch.

Herk is a very sweet and cute dog to care for. It took him a little while to totally bond with us, but once that happened, our connection was strong. Every time the word “walk” fell, he wanted both of us to join him, which we did.

He loved being out to explore and sniff, but we soon discovered that he had issues with certain dogs. Especially in the neighborhood, he seems territorial and needs to show other dogs who is in charge. Or, it might be that he is very nervous at times. He is a rescue dog with a tough past, so we understand his behavior. We used to take him to a dog park a few times a week the first two months we were in Rocklin, but after he showed aggression towards a pack of other dogs, we stopped going there and even reduced our outings to parks and trails where many close encounters could ensue.

Our temporary pet loved to play with his toys and snuggle up next to us on the couch. Other times, he was just happy when he could be in the same room, minding his own business. He expressed his love in short bursts of a wagging tail, by grabbing our leg when we returned home or by “pawing” us, holding onto our arm or leg with his claws. It was adorable.

Kisses from him were a rare and unique treat. We enjoyed each other’s presence and all the outings and walks we did together, despite his aversion to riding in the car. On the way to recreation parks, he whined, but on the return trip, happy and tired, he totally relaxed on his bed.

Living in the suburbs for three months was a new experience for us. While we enjoy getting a good feel for different parts of a country and a culture, as was to be expected, suburbia is not really our thing. We were surrounded by lots of houses, cars, traffic, red light after red light, endless shopping malls, consumerism, people going about their lives and not greeting each other… As a frugal, social and relatively adventurous couple, it was not the perfect fit. The good thing about few distractions and cool winter temperatures is that we spent our weekdays behind our computers without any regrets. 🙂

We did our best to sight-see a bit over the weekends and took advantage of being able to walk to the grocery store, bar and yoga studio, where I signed up for a month of unlimited classes.

While I was hoping to create somewhat of a social life while in Rocklin (we never had this many neighbors!), I miserably failed. That being said, we did have fun with Herk and being outdoors when the weather allowed. Our highlight was a weekend at Lake Tahoe when the sun was still providing warmth.

Best feature(s): The fact that we could walk to many places for food, drinks and entertainment. We would have loved to use the pool in the back yard if it wouldn’t have been winter.

Best gadget(s): Roomba, the iRobot vacuum cleaner, who would automatically clean the rooms for us on a daily schedule. Unfortunately, he damaged himself after a few weeks and Mark became my Roomba again. The well-equipped kitchen was a joy to cook in!

Surprise(s): The home owners left us two bottles of wine and a bar of scrumptious chocolate. They also brought some pure olive oil back from Italy. Nice! The bright and cheerful Christmas decorations and lights in the area. Meeting up with fellow blogger/adventurer Sue and her husband in Roseville for the evening.

Downside(s): Herk’s behavior towards other dogs. It did put a damper on all the excursions and hikes we had planned to do with him, but we easily adjusted and still had a great time together. Winter in Northern California is nothing like Southern California or Florida. We are cold here as well and hope to be back in the tropics somehow next winter. 🙂


  1. Interesting read, Liesbet. I know what you mean about living in suburbia — it’s a real adjustment. D and I are also surprised at how many people seem to meander around with no sense of purpose or awareness of their immediate environment.

    • I – and Mark as well, I believe – never lived in suburbia before and just knew it from TV. It is an adjustment for sure, but I think I just had high expectations about interactions with neighbors and such, which was my bad. 🙂 People are busy with their lives everywhere and they usually have their group of friends and activities already. You can’t blame them for “ignoring” us. 🙂

  2. Dog psychology is a fascinating thing! Hastings loves 99 percent of women but will ignore most men(interestingly he LOVES Matt and simply accepts me). Sometimes he will howl non-stop in the car for 8 hours, and sometimes he just sleeps. Most of the time other dogs are OK, but sometimes they are the worst and get barked at.

    Suburbia seems very strange after you’ve been away from it awhile. The amazing grocery stores and restaurants are nice, but the rest is usually depressing and very lonely!

    • You are so right about the fascinating personalities of dogs and other pets. We are learning so many new things with each pet sit. Right now, I am communicating with and stroking chickens! I had no idea they could be so social and soft. 🙂 I did not know what to expect from suburbia, since I never lived anywhere like it. To be honest, I don’t think we would fit in anywhere that resembles a normal life anymore… Most people’s priorities are so different from ours.

  3. Suburbia is not for everyone, especially not for nomads like you 🙂 That particular area is uber-suburban, (say that 3 times fast, LOL!). But because of that sit, we got to meet you and Mark and made new friends! And of course Herk loved you!

    • My post might have sounded a bit harsher than I intended! Of course, there were many enjoyable parts about our time there, like meeting you both and taking care of sweet Herk. 🙂 And, every new experience is a valuable one!

  4. I love to read these recaps of your house sitting adventures. It’s interesting to read about your negative reaction to “suburbia.” I guess I’ve lived this way pretty much my whole life and don’t find it uninspiring. We have great neighbors, access to many different restaurants and cultural events, nearby coastal playgrounds to enjoy, and the mountains aren’t too far away either. I guess it’s just what you are used to. A smaller, less-populated area is an attractive idea, certainly, but we probably couldn’t find anything with the kind of weather we enjoy pretty much year-round (except maybe in another country). I look forward to reading about your next adventure!

    • I think a lot has to do with the neighborhood and how social everyone is. There are probably “different kinds” of suburbia all over the US and you make me curious about yours now. I realized my initial post was a bit too harsh. I probably shouldn’t write and post blogs when I am moody. 🙂 No place is perfect and it is all about the compromises we make and feeling happy about our choices. We love new experiences and are glad to have lived in the suburbs for a bit. Maybe being more permanent would improve social interactions as well… Our next adventure is not too far away from you, Janis! 🙂

  5. This house sit had a few challenges and it was lovely you were there for Herk. I did not realise he was reactive with other dogs and if you are ever in that situation again feel free to drop me an email (address is on our blog) xxx

    • Thanks! It was very interesting, Xenia, mainly because his reactions were unpredictable, so we used the “better save than sorry” approach, which worked fine. We have met a few dogs who were not doing so great in the company of (certain) other dogs recently.

  6. Oh that was a lovely surprise to find myself in your blog post! Definitely a high light for us as well. I wondered if it was hard to say goodby to the pets you care for at the end of a longer house sit. It sounds like Herk, with some higher emotional needs, Found just the right love and support from the two of you. although suburbia is not your thing always good to find out or reconfirm what one doesn’t wan in life. 🙂

    • It is relatively hard to say goodbye to all these sweethearts and when I give them a last hug, I get a little bit emotional. But, they all have such good homes and receive so much attention and love from their owners, that we are happy to leave them behind from that perspective. You are so right, Sue. We enjoy all of these experiences to find out what we love and what we like less in life!

  7. Nice recap. I’m sure each new pet sit requires a ‘get to know you’ phase to see the many moods of the animal. I look forward to hearing about your chicken adventures.

    • It is so interesting to meet all these different animals and figure out their personalities. Some dogs are very attached from day one, others to a lesser degree. The chickens are awesome, but, unfortunately, they don’t lay eggs right now.

  8. I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your adventures over the past three months, Liesbet. I’ve also enjoyed seeing the many photos of Herk. That made today’s recap even more engaging. I look forward to reading about your next adventure…somewhere near Janis!

    • Thanks for following along, Donna. I don’t know what my problem is, but I take way too many photos, especially of the dogs we take care of and their irresistible cuteness! 🙂 We are in a hectic period of many transitions right now – all short house sitting stints to fill up a four week gap until the next two month one in Northern California. On Monday, we drive south, almost as far as Janis. 🙂

  9. Fascinating to read about a job and a lifestyle I have never imagined – it sounds kind of fun! I like experimenting with different kinds of housing situations, but in the last few years, I am narrowing down to the kinds of places i like to live and the ones that don’t appeal to me as much. I don’t think you were harsh at all about suburbia; you just said honestly what you liked and didn’t like about it. As you also said, if you were a permanent part of a neighborhood like you were in, it might have been a different story. I think sometimes it’s our life stage and not our surroundings that affects our ability to make friends, be more social, etc. Fun read – thanks!

    • A couple of years ago, we had no idea about this exchange, either, Lex, let alone as a lifestyle. But, it suits us perfectly for now, since we require a bit of comfort and conveniences, but don’t want to shake our adventurous spirits totally. It is so interesting to meet different animals, people and neighborhoods. My initial paragraph about suburbia was a bit harsher, hence I made a few adjustments. 🙂 And, I think you are right, some of our social attitude has to do with our own life stage, our priorities or our moods.

  10. I love reading these recaps and hearing about the different house sitting experiences you have. Herk seems like a great dog. So nice to know that the homeowners adopted a rescue dog and provided a loving home for Her.

    • There are certain factors that most home owners we sit for have in common. They are usually very open-minded, simply love their dogs and put them above all else, usually have rescued/adopted animals and are very interesting personalities. House sitting is quite a varied lifestyle and we still love it. Despite it being very hectic with lots of moving around right now. 🙂

  11. Ah, the adorable Herk! How could anyone resist? I’m not sure I could bond with a chicken though – I’ll be interested to hear more about that later.

    • I’m glad you understand why I was taking so many photos of Herk, Anabel! 🙂 I had no idea chickens could be so sweet, talkative and soft!

  12. Have you ever had pets you didn’t take to, Liesbet? (or who didn’t take to you? 🙂 ) I suppose the owners know whether their pet can be left with strangers or not. You must sometimes get a bit of pining?

    • We do get along with most pets and create a wonderful connection. I just love interacting with dogs and hanging out with them! So far, we haven’t missed any too much after leaving (we are always quite busy and never without animals around us, on the next house sit or from friends), but we do look forward to having our own dogs again one day. 🙂

    • Perfect ‘job’ for you, then! 🙂 🙂

  13. Who needs people when you have a cuddly dog and landscapes like that. I am sorry that you weren’t able to generate many friendships while housesitting there, but you have a much better idea of what to look for in a house sit from this experience (I think I see a second book here) and the time really did fly quickly. I love that Mark is your Roomba

    • That’s one thing that probably will never change: time always flies. I ought to focus on book number 1 first, Lisa. But, you are right, I have so much material about so many different experiences, that more books might be “needed”. 🙂 Welcome back! PS: Mark is the best Roomba ever, and surely prefers that to cleaning bathrooms.

  14. Despite being in the suburbs, it seems like you may have found a few nice trails to walk in with your temporary pet?

  15. Ah, the joys of suburban living. Sounds like you made the best of every situation.

    • Suburbia was an interesting experience for me. We make the best of the situation and remember what we have learned for the next sit. 🙂

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