Owning horses, or animals in general, is not for everyone. Most folks that I know that have horses also have dogs, and of course, the prerequisite barn cats. I have often heard people explain their disinterest in owning animals as an unwillingness to be “tied down”. For me, the blessings my animals add to my life far outweigh the challenges.
Having said that, animals do make some aspects of life more challenging. One such challenge is traveling. In the past, I have paid significant amounts of money to critter sitters when I have been away from home. An expensive 2-week vacation becomes more expensive when one has to pay someone $50/day or more to care for the livestock and pets left behind.
Last summer in Drake, Alan and I had a couple of trips we needed to make. While it was possible to take the dogs, the horses were left behind. We arranged for a new neighbor, a horse lady, to come and take care of the horses. We really didn’t know too many people at that point. As we discussed the challenges of finding house and pet sitters, Georgia, our neighbor, shared her solution with us…
She had used an internet-based pet and home sitter service. She created an online profile, put out the details of her “sit”, and sat back to wait for applications. She screened the applicants, made her choice, and went forward with her travel plans.
Georgia pointed out that having a log cabin in the mountains was a definite plus when it came to finding folks willing to travel to us at their expense and stay in our home for free. What do they get? The opportunity to visit places and get free lodging. I was skeptical. I was not at all sure I wanted to invite a stranger into my home and trust them with all that was valuable to me.
Fast forward about 6 months… We are in an RV at a horse camping site and we want to go visit my daughter. One of the campers as well as the camp hostess volunteered to watch our critters… only to change their mind after we had booked the flights. I scrambled and found a great gal, and we dropped several hundred dollars for a partial week trip.
After that, I decided to look into this “internet thing.” A Google search turned up Trusted Housesitters as one of the better options. (That is not the one Georgia uses.) After researching it, I decided to pay the $97 fee to be able to ask for sitters. (They have several plan options.) For a little less than double that, you can sign up to both offer a sit or be a sitter. At this point, I only need sitters… I never buy anything online without searching for a coupon. Sure enough, there was a coupon and I got a discount on the regular price.
I spent several hours uploading photos and a description of our Colorado home. I was going to post a sit for late May, in Colorado. It was unreal… within a few hours of posting the request, I closed the application intake. I had over a dozen absolutely amazing applicants. The sitters have multiple options of background checking and approval that they offer. More importantly, there are reviews for both the sitters and the homeowners. The sitter reviews are the key…
We eventually settled on a couple from Europe. They are “digital nomads” and work from wherever they are. We Skyped, as they were in Europe at the time. (There are tons of “sits” offered in Europe, FYI!) I had at least a half dozen other stellar applicants as a backup plan.
Next, our barndominium sold. Now we had a month to drive from Arizona to Kansas, to Colorado, and back to Arizona. (3000 miles in 9 days… it was a killer trip!) I needed to put another “sit” out there. The trouble was, our profile was for Colorado. No problem… you have room to upload 10 photos. I removed 5 Colorado photos and replaced them with 5 Arizona photos. I included a description of our Arizona place. The animals were the same!
While I didn’t have as many responses for our much more modest home in Arizona, I did have several really good candidates within a day. Again, we passed on some great folks but settled on Christina. She is a writer, traveling around in her converted short school bus! Talk about a win/win! She got a full kitchen, hot showers, and some awesome animal company. We got to accomplish our house-closing mission without subjecting 4 dogs to endless days in the truck.
We enjoyed Christina so much that we didn’t give her an exit date after we returned. She stayed an additional two weeks with us. We hiked and rode the horses and had a spa day! While she was still at our home, we received a message from our European sitters for May. It turns out they were offered a 6-month sit that overlapped their commitment to us. While they were absolutely willing to honor their commitment, they wondered if I would mind listing the sit again and filling it with someone else?
Christina’s schedule is nothing if not fluid… and she offered to come to Colorado. So again, a win/win!
As I write this blog, I am on a flight from Orlando back to Arizona. Alan and I visited my son and his family. This time it is Dan who is watching the flock. Poor Dan… what a mess he signed up for.
We moved into our Arizona home in mid-February. We immediately made plans to redo the kitchen. Thanks to Covid, the cabinets didn’t arrive until last week. Dan is knee-deep in a kitchen remodel. In a text yesterday, he shared his suspicions that the air conditioner was not working properly. The home inspector warned us that the air conditioner was on its last legs. We bought a home owner’s warranty. But that doesn’t help Dan much right now.
As I mentioned last week, we had dental work done on the horses. My gelding had evidence of some inflammation, so we started him on antibiotics. Kadeen needed another 5 doses after we left, and I was not at all sure Dan could get the job done. He did!
Dan is our age, retired military, a foster dad, and has background checks out the wazoo. He’s an awesome, giving, Christian man who has been amazing. His wife initially planned to come with him, but a prior commitment kept her in Michigan. They are hoping to come to Colorado sometime, so we’ll meet her then.
So… do you need a critter sitter? Check out this organization. If you decide to sign up, you can either search for a coupon floating around on the internet or use this link. That link will give you a 25% discount off of membership, and give me two months free. However, I didn’t write this blog to get free months! We have saved a ton of money using this approach, so I am totally fine with paying their nominal fee. Alan had even more misgivings than I did, and he’s 100% sold. We have had a wonderful experience so far. Give it a try!