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The Joys (and Challenges) of Being A Pet Sitter

Posted in Our Community @ Oct 4th 2012 4:01pm - By James Cave
James Cave Ralph Bunnyears 2

Not too long ago I decided to become a pet sitter. My setup is slightly different to that of many traditional pet sitters who provide a service within their local community: I’m what you could call a mobile pet sitter; I travel the world looking after people’s pets and homes whilst they’re away on holidays. The second thing that’s slightly different is that I don’t charge for pet sitting: it’s a means to accommodation for me, and most importantly accommodation in countries where I would normally be forking out for a hotel room to stay there.

If it sounds like a dream “job”, then it may well be – I haven’t tried being a professional ice-cream taster yet, so I don’t have that basis for comparison. And although every job has its burnout and downsides, it certainly beats a lot of other things I’ve tried though.

But being a pet sitter has its ups and downs, and if you’re thinking about becoming one: either a traditional pet sitter through an agency or though your own local business, or doing what I’m doing through pet sitting websites like Trusted Housesitters, there are a few things to consider.

Challenge #1: How Much Do I Really Like Poo?

I had grown up in the countryside so most pet mess usually went unseen. Starting to house sit in the city however, made me realise that not everybody has a large overgrown field in which the pets can do their business. I’m used to it of course, but it has to be said it’s definitely not one of the perks of the job.

Joy #1: The Warm Up

Cats tend to be quite cautious with new people, dogs less so but either way, there’s always a period in which they’re summing you up; deciding whether you’re a suitable temporary replacement for their owner.

Then, there’s that moment when they warm to you and that moment in itself is definitely one of the perks.

Challenge #2: I Value My Sleep, the Pets Don’t

I’m not someone who enjoys lie-ins most of the time, but I do value uninterrupted sleep. Sadly the pets don’t quite see things in the same way. After all, if it’s light and they’re awake, well surely James wants to get up as well doesn’t he?

Joy #2: Somebody loves me

As soon as the pet realises that you’re the source of walks, food, head scratches and fun, they will love you and that’s job satisfaction you don’t get in many places.

Challenge #3: Saying Goodbye

For anybody that I pet sit for, their pets are like family and by the time I’m finished a housesit we’ve developed our own little bond as well. Thankfully, if the pet owner is happy (and so far they’ve all been) there’s the chance they’ll ask me back again, so it’s never a permanent goodbye!

Every “job” paid or unpaid has the bits that you don’t like, but like an investor you’ve got to look at what you’re getting in return and for me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

James writes for pet owner and sitter connection website Trusted Housesitters, where pet owners are able to post pet sitting assignments and find sitters willing to look after their pets and homes. This October he starts his craziest pet sit yet: 18 alpacas and 9 cats on a farm in the South of France.


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