Tag Archives: sharing economy

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.   


Secret stash in the back of my Subaru

Susan Caba
Resale Evangelista

“What’s that in the back of your car?”

Sounds like a casual question, but it wasn’t. My friend Jone Bosworth quizzed me with a raised eyebrow and a tart tone.

“Jumper cables,” I explained.

“No, that other thing–the big brown thing,” she pressed.

“Oh. Well, um…it’s a leather loveseat,” I said, in what I hoped was an off-hand manner.

“A loveseat!?! What are you doing with a loveseat? You’re supposed to be downsizing.” Clearly, I hadn’t nailed the off-hand thing.

You will recall that I am downsizing, simplifying and focusing my life. It says so, more or less, in the sub-title of this blog.

Is that a leather loveseat in your Suburu?And I have–I sold my house, disposed of many possessions and put the rest in a storage locker. Well, there was a little excess that I had to put in another, much smaller locker. And as soon as my brother Joe takes our great-grandmother’s dining room table, I can consolidate the two.

In the meantime, as I told Jone, there’s some room in the lockers. Hence, the loveseat.

“What? There’s room in the lockers? There’s room, so you’re filling it?” She wasn’t buying that rationale. I tried another.

“Well, my friend Fran was getting a new loveseat and chair, and she needed to get rid of this loveseat and she said she was going to give it to a charity that gives furniture to formerly homeless people who just got their first apartments, and the loveseat is really nice and Fran said I could have it, so I told her I would donate some cash to the homeless organization; besides, she wanted to get it out of her condo pretty quickly and the homeless place couldn’t pick it up for three weeks and I told her it would fit in the back of the Subaru–she didn’t believe me, but it did, so I took it.”

Jone stood there, hands on hips, eyebrow still raised. I am awed–and a little scared–of people who can raise one eyebrow.

“And it’s the right scale for whatever smaller place I end up in,” I added, meekly.

Still silence, still the eyebrow.

What can I say–I relapsed.

Jone, an executive coach, told me I have to work on breaking some habits of mind if my down-sizing and simplifying are going to be successful:

  • Just because something is free, and really nice, doesn’t mean I need it.
  • Just because that something fits easily into the back of the Subaru, doesn’t mean I should put it in there.
  • Just because the storage locker has room, doesn’t mean I should fill it.
  • Just because I want it, doesn’t mean I should have it.

Oh, okay, fine, I’ll work on changing my thought patterns.

In the meantime, it’s a really nice leather loveseat and it fits in the back of my car and there is room in the storage locker….

The Resale Evangelista is about simplifying life, cutting down on clutter, spending wisely and creating a focused, artful life.

If you are in the Washington D.C. area and have nice furniture you would like to donate, try The Wider Circle. The non-profit organization accepts furniture in good condition only, and redistributes it to families or individuals who need it. And if you have cash? Wider Circle accepts that, too.

For more information: Phone: 301-608-3504; Email: contact@awidercircle.org; Questions about donating furniture: furnish@awidercircle.org

If you are in or around St. Louis, the Miriam School’s Switching Post accepts donations of furniture and household items in good shape and sells them at prices well below antique shops or commercial stores. It’s an open secret that interior designers shop at the Switching Post. The store is staffed by volunteers and all proceeds go to the Miriam School, in Webster Grove, for learning-disabled children. Last year, the store raised $100,000 for the school.

For more information: Phone: 314-646-7737; Website: MiriamSwitchingPost.org

If you know of other non-profits who accept furniture, feel free to leave their contact information with your comments, or send them to me and I’ll add them.








Helpful Reminders…

Mantras for Resisting Temptation

The Resale Evangelista

We all face temptation from time to time–a gorgeous set of dishes we know we’ll never use; the Louis Vuitton suitcase in perfect condition, despite the fact it’s too big to carry on and you wouldn’t risk checking it (and don’t have $2,200 to spare); the motorcycle jacket you know your husband would love–well, you think he would love it–for Christmas.

The Resale Evangelista understands. I’ve slipped, myself.

But if we’re going to simplify life, buy only what we need, and create focused, artful lives, we have to hold strong. Right? So I’ve found some inspirational little quotes to help us maintain resolve. Print them out and tuck them in your wallet. Better yet, wrap them around your credit cards with a rubber-band.

“Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”
― Chuck Palahniuk
“Hanging onto a bad buy will not redeem the purchase.”
― Terence Conran
 “The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have.” 
― Reinhold Messner