Continuing Adventures in Pet and Housesitting

This sweet old girl patiently let me interrupt our walk to pose her with flowers. The autumn colors were just so gorgeous!

It’s been a while since I posted about pet and housesitting, but we’ve done quite a few since then (many repeats to much-loved Antwerp, Belgium) and we’re back at it, in Washington State this time. After spending two weeks in the Leschi/Mt. Baker area of Seattle proper caring for a sweet old Australian shepherd mix, we’re now weeks into a five-week cat-sitting stay in Edmonds, a charming waterfront community about 30 minutes north of downtown Seattle. We’re still trying to decide on where to settle long-term and Seattle and environs is an area we wanted to check out. It’s been a great stay and, as always, housesitting provides so much more insight into what day-to-day life in a place is like than some short vacation in a hotel or AirBnB.

We chose the Edmonds cat- and housesit many months beforehand, then decided more last-minute to do the earlier two-week dog- and housesit in nearby Seattle when David came across the posting on Trustedhousesitters.com and realized that their stay ended on the day we were scheduled to start in Edmonds. We figured, “Why not do both?” The contrast in neighborhoods has been really interesting and worthwhile. Both homes are very nice, our current stay being in a lovely and spacious condo in the heart of Edmonds with balcony, views of Puget Sound, gas fireplace, and radiant floors. The pets are sweet and add that extra home-like feel we love.

On the down side, we faced our first pet health issue rising to the level of needing a veterinarian visit with the Australian shepherd mix, Rowan, in Seattle. Although old, deaf and on medication for congestive heart failure, she’d been spry, eager for her walks, and my constant shadow in the condo. Out of the blue one night, her jaw started spasming making her teeth clack uncontrollably and really giving us a scare. We sat on the floor with her, stroking her head until it stopped, afraid she was having a seizure. WhatsApp messaging with her owners in Portugal was reassuring; apparently she’d had the same symptom some years ago and it was related to pain from an infected tooth. She had a history of tooth problems and was scheduled for a cleaning and check up the next week when her owners returned. They asked us to just keep an eye on her and let them know if there was a recurrence. Unfortunately, Rowan’s jaw began to swell the next evening and was so much worse the following morning that one eye was nearly swollen shut, red and weeping. This sweet dog didn’t complain, just laid her head in my lap, showing total faith that we’d make things better. Messaging with the owners confirmed their agreement that we needed to get Rowan to the vet. We were up early and ready to go by 8am Saturday when the vet office opened. I was able to get Rowan an appointment on an emergency basis, but not until 11am. When Rowan began to drool blood, we headed out early, deciding we’d rather wait in the vet’s office should she have some sort of crisis. Thankfully, we’d just rented a car so we could transport her, since the Seattle neighborhood we were staying in was not particularly pedestrian friendly. This is when it can be hard being a pet-sitter. You just have to do what you’d want done for your own pet and hope all goes well. It helped that we were on the same page with the owners and they were just worried about Rowan and sympathetic to our position. Agreeing that it was probably a tooth/gum infection, the vet put Rowan on strong antibiotics and pain-killers urging me to call immediately if she had any diarrhea or vomiting… So, of course, as soon as we were back home, David was in the shower, and I took Rowan to the park, she had watery diarrhea. We had about 30 minutes before the vet closed for the weekend and the last thing we wanted was to have to put a sick dog back in our brand new rent car and haul her to some unknown–and unfamiliar with her– vet-in-a-box, so we left her home, dashed back to her vet, picked up more medicine…and all worked out in the end.

I relate this story just to remind everyone interested in pet-sitting that there is the potential for crises, big and small, and you need to be prepared. We love pet- and house-sitting and we’ve had wonderful experiences and met terrific people and animals, but the benefits come with real responsibilities. With older animals, there’s always that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that everyone has to go sometime, but please, please, sweet dog or cat, not while we’re taking care of you!

Speaking of older animals, the two cats we’re now tending in Edmonds are brothers, 17 years old. They’re loveable, arthritic old boys whose mom has them on an interesting Washington-state-sort of regimen of hemp oil “pot drops” and joint medicine masked by dollops of souffle-style cat food. They also have a steady cloud of pheromone “happy gas” emanating from a wall plug-in. It made us smile, but whatever the owner wants (and is legal, of course) is fine by us. The pets we tend are bound to miss their people, so we try to minimize the stress by giving them lots of affection and keeping them as close to their usual routine as possible.

Movie time with one of our cat charges in Edmonds

Edmonds has turned out to be a fantastic place to housesit. It sort of reminds me of a New Englandy, Pacific-Northwest Carmel. It’s quaint and picturesque with a beautiful seafront, a ferry landing, yacht club, lots of good restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques within steps of our housesit … and an old, one-screen theater that’s actually still in business! I’ll do a separate post on this charming town later.

I’m still very happy with Trustedhousesitters.com  and arranged both of the above Washington stays through them. The site is well thought out, easy-to-use, security conscious and gets lots of traffic. If you use the above link, you’ll get a 20% discount and I’ll get a couple free months, so thanks to anyone who does. Learn more about the basics of pet and housesitting and other sites we’ve tried in my earlier post Pet and Housesitting: See the world like a local. While we intend to stay with Trustedhousesitters, I’ve come across a couple of other sites that are cheaper and may be worth a look. I haven’t tried them yet and can’t vouch for them personally, but for anyone who wants to economize a little more or just explore other options, you can check out MindMyHouse.com and Housesittersamerica.com.

A final note for owners looking for pet- and housesitters: While competition can be fierce for housesits in popular locations and nice homes, you do need to sell it a bit if you want to get the best responses. Photos of your pets are essential, but so are photos of where the sitter(s) will stay. Tidy up, if necessary, and at the very least post photos of the bedroom where your sitters will sleep, the bathroom they’ll use and your kitchen. Shots of the living area(s) and any view, yard, etc. are good, too. Without this basic information, we’ll assume the worst about the house and move on and so will most of the sitters you’d most want taking care of your home and pets.

November 2018

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