Tag Archives: adventure

House-sitting, with pets…

A dog-gone good way to vacation

By Susan Caba Resale Evangelista

Dot and I jHouse Sitting for Pets, by Susan Caba in Spring 2015 Bark Magazineust returned from a walk in the woods around the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. While I stumbled over roots, Dot reveled in the fresh smells of a muddy creek bed, hid behind my legs when approached by a larger dog, and snuffled delightedly through a pile of pine needles. … 

So begins my article on house-sitting in the Spring edition of The Bark magazine. My sojourn with Dot, a 10lb Jack Russell named for the single brown splotch on her right hip, has come to an end. Her rightful owners have returned from India and Dot was happy to see them.

Dot and I got along just fine as roommates for close to 8 months. She was part of my year-long house-sitting adventure, moving around the country in search of a permanent location. House-sitting is a also great option for those who merely want to get away for a few weeks and don’t mind–or welcome–caring for a homeowner’s pet during their vacation. 

House Sitting Pets is a great way to see the world and live an artful life

My erstwhile roommate, Dot

I got to stay in the Kellers’ lovely home with a wraparound porch and woodburning stove while getting to know the area around Chapel Hill, NC. The Kellers didn’t have to worry about Dot and their three cats–who benefited by staying in their own home. You might consider this arrangement if you have pets that you’d hate–or couldn’t afford–to put in a kennel while you’re gone.

House-sitting arrangements are part of the new sharing economy. While house-sitting has been around for decades, the internet has energized the practice by making it easy for homeowners and house-sitters to connect without having to coordinate locations and simultaneous travel plans. One of the major factors driving the trend is people’s desire for in-home pet care.

Andy Peck, founder of TrustedHouseSitters.com–the site I use most–told me that 80 percent of the people looking for house-sitters have pets. “The most important thing to most homeowners is that they’ve got happy pets cared for at home. More and more people don’t want to use kennels.”

“It’s a win-win for both parties. The sitter goes the extra mile—it’s not liking asking a reluctant nephew to do the job,” he said. “And a lot of people genuinely love looking after pets while having a “stay-cation” in a great place, a vacation where they can live like a local.” 

House Sitting with dogs, Spring 2015 Bark magazine

My dog, Frazier, now living in California

Some assignments involve luxurious properties—sometimes quite decadent luxury. Ocean-view estates in Costa Rica, country mansions in Great Britain, and apartments in New York, London, Paris and San Francisco are  frequently among the listings, though these tend to be filled fast–often within hours. There are always lots of listings for Australia, New Zealand and Canada. House-sitters just have to keep local weather in mind. Canada is cool and green in the summer, but most listings are for winter months, fine for skiers. Australians flee their country during its torrid summers.

Shari Keller told me that Dot sealed the deal for me in getting their house-sitting assignment. Dot’s a shy creature at first but took to me almost on first sight. Within days of my arrival, she was already giving me the nightly signal that it was time for us to repair to the bedroom. She started out sleeping in her own bed on the floor but rapidly insinuated her way into sleeping in my bed, invariably taking a spot in the middle. (I’m told that arrangement has come to an end and Dot is back in her own bed. Sorry about that, Dot!)

Browsing the pet photos in house-sitting ads are enough to make me laugh out loud. One couple wrote: “We live in South West Calgary, about a half hour from the downtown core. We are looking for someone to feed our dogs, and give them lots of attention as well as take care of our home, water plants, etc.” The listing included pictures of Ginger, a doleful English bulldog, and a very perky Coton de Tulear named Willow.

As always, I caution you to read the listings of house-sitting assignments very carefully. The listings are often mini-biographies that reflect the homeowners’ adoration of their dogs and other pets. Sometimes, that familial love can be a little over the top or the pets that need care are elderly or ailing. There is also the risk the animals won’t be as adorable as described.

A friend agreed to move into a Victorian house in Colorado for a month, only to find that one of the two dogs she would be sitting was a snarling hound of the Baskervilles. Her first clue was when the homeowner provided “the biggest ham I’ve ever seen,” to lure the dog to his kennel.

Don’t take on more than you can handle. (I again thank the Kellers for getting rid of the two dozen chickens they had before they left for India. I didn’t think it would be a big deal taking care of them. However, when it snowed 7 inches one February day, I was very glad I didn’t have to go out to the chicken coop and hook up some heat lamps.)

I‘ve written about some of the more hilarious posts in Talk to the Animals.

If you’re interested in house-sitting, here are some of my earlier posts: More Talk to the AnimalsHave a Yen to Try House Sitting?, Tiny Houses, Travel and Defining Home.

The Resale Evangelista is dedicated to simplifying, clarifying and creating a more artful life by getting rid of stuff she doesn’t need. She’s traveling around the country for a year, seeing how other people live.   

Have a yen to try house-sitting?

Going on the lam for a year

Susan Caba
Resale Evangelista

Took Dot, the dog, for a forest walk today and am now sitting in front of a roaring fire in my adopted North Carolina home. I’ll be house-sitting here for almost another four months.

If you’re anxious to try the house-sitting lifestyle, the Jan. 4 New York Times Travel section features my article, A Primer on House Sitting. There are two other related articles, Home Exchange 101 and A Crash Course in AirBnB.

If you’re new to the site, you might want to check out these earlier posts of mine about the joys and perils of house-sitting.

The Resale Evangelista is decluttering–her mind and her belongings–to create a more focused, simplified and artful life.

The sharing economy

Resale Evangelista gets restless & embarks on adventure

By Susan Caba

Exciting news, Evangelisti–my year of living restlessly is developing nicely.

At the end of the month, my 10-week sojourn near Washington, D.C. will draw to a close. I’ll be on my way to six weeks in Santa Barbara.

And after that? Chapel Hill, N.C., an unfamiliar part of the country for me. I recently agreed to house-sit for a family off on an adventure of its own, six months to a year in Rajasthan, India. The homeowners, Mark and Shari, have a business in Jaipur and will home school their  children there, to familiarize them with the culture their parents love.

That’s right, I’ll be in North Carolina for six months and possibly more. The brick house, with a wide, wraparound porch–part of it screened, is surrounded by trees on three acres just outside town. Sunlight flows in through big windows; a wood-burning stove will stave off the chill of winter (in what may be the greatest gift, Mark is stocking the wood shed to the eves with fuel enough for a full season). Company will be provided–at least until I meet some humans–by Dot, a Jack Russell terrier, and three cats. There is nothing like a dog and a drift of cats to keep things cozy.

I’m looking forward to settling in, exploring the happenings at the University of North Carolina, getting some writing done and embarking on my year of changing my “story,” my brain and my life while indulging my restless nature.

The Restless — er, Resale–Evangelista sold her house earlier this year and is exploring the country (and other locations) by house-sitting. It dawned on her (while listening to NPR, of course) that’s she’s become part of the new “sharing economy.” Not sure yet exactly what that means, but the Evangelista will keep you posted as the situation clarifies!


sunset from Guildive

Sunset, from the deck of the Guildive

“The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have.”

–Reinhold Messner

By Susan Caba
Resale Evangelista

I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

When I decided to sign on as crew–no experience necessary, therefore I qualified–on a 56-foot vintage American ketch making its winter trip from the Penobscot Bay to Baltimore Harbor, I asked a friend who is a seasoned sailor what the trip might entail. She was not entirely enthusiastic.

“Ocean sailing for five days will be tedious and exhausting, if the weather’s good,” she said. Never one to miss the obvious, I had to ask, “And if the weather is bad?”

“Oh. Then it will be terrifying and dangerous,” she replied.

She offered me the loan of her foul weather gear—boots, overalls and a hooded jacket, all made of thick yellow neoprene.  Putting it on, I thought that all I needed to pass for a giant rubber Duckie was an orange rubber beak. It occurred to me that, if the weather was bad enough to necessitate this outfit, I could be in big trouble.

I flew into Bangor on a Friday night in mid-October, in an unremitting rainstorm that delayed flights up and down the East Coast. Three of us–strangers to one another–arrived on the same flight and made the 90-minute drive to Castine, a harbor village, on roads dark and wet. It was nearly midnight before we boarded the Guildive, tethered to the short dock that is her summer home. Two of the “crew” were already aboard; we three made five, with the sixth and final passenger still delayed by weather in Baltimore. We were scheduled to set sail in the morning on our five-day, 900-mile journey. …

Just a reminder: Don’t let “stuff” limit your existence. Adventure is around the corner when you simplify and focus your life.