When we first looked in to house-sitting one of the insights that surprised me was the statistic that said around 90 to 95% of sits would include looking after animals. Staggering, right? That’s right, only somewhere between 1 out of every 10 to 20 families wouldn’t have animals! I don’t know if that relates to how many people have pets, or how many people with pets prefer to have their house-sat. Either way the number surprised me - I thought more families would be pet-free. But guess what… after around a year of house-sitting, we’re finally doing our first animal-free sit, which makes them sound even rarer.
It’s a peculiar feeling, only having to be aware of what the man and I are doing. But it has made the differences between living with, and without, animals exceptionally obvious.
The lack of animal hair is a major one. For one thing, it makes vacuuming easier and less frequent. Plus on the occasion I drop anything, I don’t instantly have to clean it. But the main advantage that gets me is (wait for it!)… I can wear black clothes and lounge around in my trackies without finding I’m covered in animal hair within 5 minutes.
When we first started this way of life one of the many things we had to adjust to was consistently walking dogs. Whether it was once or twice a day, there was no doubt we were daily taking our little charges out for a stroll - or, in fact, they were taking us. Now after so long, the regular walk has become a routine and part of our exercise regime. So not to be required to do it is kind of weird - especially, considering the size of the native block of land we were looking after last month. Then, we would go for numerous walks a day, whilst now we have to remind ourselves of the justification to go even once.
But, having said that, it’s also rather nice to go out for a stroll and, for once, not have to ensure we have Puppy Poop Bags in our pocket.
What else is there… the novelty of not having to think of anybody else, but ourselves, is rather nice. Certainly there are tasks we have to do here (and would expect to do) but there’s none of the early wake up calls from dogs needing to go out, or the morning rooster calls. Neither are there extra meals to make or reasons to be back a particular times. Heck, there are no animal cages or trays of any kind to clean out, or accidents to tidy up come to that.
But then I guess neither is there any furry animal to sneakily snuggle up to us, curl up on my cold feet in the evening, or simply be eager to see us. Also, when you have pets, there’s rarely any doubt if a person is approaching the house or if it’s time to eat. The benefits and delights, let’s face it, to having pets of any kind are numerous and usually outweigh the negatives.
But, with regards to the statistics I mentioned earlier, let me just say one thing, it’s obvious that we‘re usually asked to look after animals simply because they’re sensitive or rescue animals, have had negative experiences with kennels or come from a household of numerous pets. In other words, animals that benefit from our individual care and attention, which I have to admit is rather a nice compliment.