Have searched the archives and not seen this particular question, but it may be because it overlaps with those about sit length and I’m just missing them!
I want to preface this by saying that I always respect the wishes of the HO, and take the pets’ needs very seriously. I am not the kind of person who gets a sit in Berlin and goes off to party 20 hours a day, or leaves the house for a 12 hour hiking session. If a pet needed active medical care or similar this wouldn’t be a viable option for me. My partner and I are extremely dedicated, general homebody types. When we do a sit we are home or with the pets nearly all the time, and try to schedule our other plans accordingly.
However, on longer sits (10-14 days), it would be nice to have a little bit of flexibility built in, especially if we wanted to do something that would involve being away for 6-8 hours (tops!!!). I’ve seen some HOs advertise that they can help coordinate a neighbor or dog walker to come during those longer sits so the sitter can take a day trip or two. As a HO myself, I always actively offer this as an option, especially if someone is going to be here for two weeks or more.
Lately, when I ask if this is a possibility, the reactions seem to range from “Of course, we’d love to help you get out and explore!” or a really dismissive “Obviously you’re not a good fit that you would dare to ask such a question.” I try to word my question to indicate that it’s just exploratory, and certainly not a dealbreaker on our end. If they said no, then I’d absolutely respect their wishes.
I’m assuming that the wide variety of responses means that this just reflects differences in HOs and I shouldn’t take it personally. Am I way out of line in even asking such a thing? Am I phrasing it wrong, or indicating in some way that I’m planning to be away from the pet(s) more than once or twice over a longer sit?
My sense is that I’m taking this way too personally, but it does sting a bit. The kind of person who starts an application with “how long can the pet be alone” doesn’t at all seem the same as “can we coordinate a few instances for alternative coverage?”
I guess that it all boils down to what people find reasonable. If you and the host are both buying into the fair exchange model, it should be an easy chat.
My partner and I are extremely dedicated, general homebody types. When we do a sit we are home or with the pets nearly all the time, and try to schedule our other plans accordingly.
I’d be reassured to hear this as a host, but I don’t sit at home 24/7 and don’t expect anyone else to either. You are not being unreasonable to want to go out and your honesty and openness about doing so in a responsible way is a real credit to you.
@pitcherplant you are right on the money when stating it appears just to be a range of reactions…it truly does depend on the HO/PP and what they expect and/or want for their pet(s). I do appreciate when a PP states the maximum amount of time their pet can be left alone as this gives the potential sitter knowledge before they take the time to apply or even talk to the PP. Everyone is better off with full transparency from the beginning as this is the foundation of TrustedHousesitters…Trust.
Don’t ever take it personally as not all sits are for everyone and not all sitters are the right fit for every PP. That’s what makes the world go 'round. If you aren’t right for this sit, there is always another one waiting in the wings.
You are being very reasonable and very generous with your time. It seems like COVID and the “work from home” trend has unfortunately bred some needy pets and some unrealistic expectations among some home owners. If their pets can’t be left alone for a reasonable amount of time, they should specify that in their posting. We won’t apply for those, since we would rather pay for lodging or stay home than be housebound for long periods of time. We have been lucky and have had nothing but wonderful hosts who want us to enjoy and explore the areas while also taking great care of their homes and pets. The pets and home are our main concern and will certainly change our plans to take care of an issue with either. We are upfront with our hosts in our applications and interviews. Don’t feel bad for asserting your own need for reasonable personal time. This is supposed to be an exchange network. That said, there are definitely sitters who are perfectly happy being housebound and would jump at the chance to do these sits. What would be a nightmare for some, may be a dream for others.
As a HO I always offer one day of cover if sitters are keen to arrange a trip further afield especially if they are from overseas. So far no-one has taken me up on it saying that they are happy to sightsee before or after the sit but their priority is taking care of Max whilst staying in my house.
However I recently had an applicant who wondered if I could arrange cover for a couple of days/nights during a 10 day sit - that was a definite sorry but no!
We have one kitty and he is fed by timed feeding trays.
Our listing says that day trips are feasible but we would like a sitter to spend each night in the home.
That being said, I think that both HO & sitter should discuss their must haves/deal breakers/wish list when interviewing each other.
If I was feeling good about an applicant and they said to me: “We see your listing says to spend in each night in the home but I wonder if we could talk about any flexibility during our 2 week stay for 1 or 2 nights not in the home, if we see an an area to visit that might not be feasible in a day trip.”
I would appreciate the question, respect that the sitter asked and want to find out their thinking.
What is most interesting is one can say “I like apple pie” to a variety of people and get a variety of responses.
The pie is the constant neutral element, it’s the continuum of responses that’s interesting with not any one of them being right or wrong.
If you like apple pie…then ask…because there will be HO’s that like apple pie…don’t like apple pie or can take it or leave it or even may like apple pie but in a particular way.
In other words…hope this lifted your spirits a bit😊 it’s not you or your asking.
Your request is reasonable and it seems like you are wording it in a really open way, which is great. If people are rebuking you that shows you enough about their personality to indicate you may have dodged a bullet?
So I wouldn’t take it personally. Asking if there’s a possibility of getting occasional midday coverage because you want to explore a certain area is very reasonable and it shows you are responsible and thinking about the animals’ needs. Some people might not even bother asking and would simply leave the animal home alone. Don’t despair!
I like that you ask and would discuss that right up front. For me, that is a possibility because I have good friends nearby that don’t necessarily want to dog-sit for me for a whole trip, but would be happy to help if my sitter was going to be out longer than expected, for example.
You seem crystal clear to me, P.Plant, and very caring.
I imagine some Home Owners may react, and not respond in a way that is helpful, because life is so intense sometimes, and people may be skimming so many applications, that what they read is barely understood before they bolt into a quick reply.
My comfort is in knowing my own integrity is clear to me, and I trust it, and, this, I love:
“Rejection is God’s protection.” This saying always lifts me when things seem off - like a tinge of “emotional abandonment,” when not getting a more inviting HO reply.
Wishing you the best Sits, and Hosts who communicate well enough to answer your query in a way that feels good to you. You have every right to ask for your needs. You obviously care deeply for the hosts’ and animals’ well being.
It’s perfectly reasonable to want to have time away from the home and pet(s). I’m pretty sure most home owners don’t stay with their pets 24/7. The RSPCA suggests that dogs should ideally be left alone no longer than 4 hours, and 4 hours for me is enough time to go to a museum/art gallery/theatre/cinema. Not that I’d do that every day anyway and would have had a good walk with the dog before then. As someone else has said, the pandemic meant dogs got used to their owners being at home most of the time, and really owners should be getting the dogs used to being on their own for a while.
Some of my home owners’ dogs go to doggy day care or have a dog Walker occasionally and they usually like those to continue while they’re away.
If a home owner expected you to stay with the pet all the time that is unreasonable. I wouldn’t apply for such sits. Some owners have positively encouraged me to leave the dog and have time alone.
Thank you all so much for your kindness and reassurance! I was feeling really down about this situation and you have all lifted my spirits immensely. I will endeavor to heed the advice of a writing teacher I once had, and to look on these rejections as opportunities instead.
My view is always ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’! We are lucky in that we only take care of cats who are happy being on their own for a few hours. I can imagine it is more difficult with dogs. We have only requested back-up during a 7 month stay when we needed 2 nights away to attend a wedding overseas and 1 night away for another reason and the owners were very happy to allocate a neighbour to feed the cats. We agreed this at the start of the sit. However we would never do this for shorter sits.
Hi @pitcherplant. I think your question is absolutely a fair. I have only done cat sits so far. Some were outdoor cats so as long as I fed and provided water twice a day then I could do what I wanted. But I’ve also looked after indoor cats as well. Again feeding is important and spending time with them but there should still be time for you free time for as you say 3-6 hours a day( depending on animals) I’ve had HO’s leave me maps and interesting things to do in the area so I think many HO’s are fine with you not being there 24/7.
If HO isn’t happy that you don’t want to sit 24/7 then I’d move on. As I did on a recent sit application.
I don’t think it’s you. We’ve been doing this for years, and we’ve found that there are simply some homeowners who feel very entitled. Rather than seeing this process as an exchange between equals, they feel that they are doing the sitters a big favour by providing a place to stay for free*. They have no appreciation of the amount of work and the huge responsibility undertaken by the sitters. On the other hand, there are terrific HOs who bend over backwards to make the sit as pleasant and flexible as possible for the sitters. THOSE are the ones you want to sit for! Careful reading of the posting and pertinent questions during any communication usually give clues to which kind of HO you’re dealing with. It’s worth waiting for the good guys. Good luck!
*Some HOs are looking for unpaid servants. We’ve even seen a posting where the HO wanted the sitters to ferry them back and forth to restaurants so that they could imbibe freely without having to worry about drinking and driving!
Great question and good range of answers.
On another note we always ask if the dogs travel well in cars. Like you, we have had a range of answers from “your not leaving my beloved pooch in a hot car all day while you go sightseeing”, which we would never do to “yeh, they love a road trip”.
Background: we love to hike but sometimes the particular walk we want to do that day is an hour away. We would rather have the dogs with us, enjoying themselves than stuck at home. We always try and sit for active dogs who can walk 5 to 10miles a day.
That was a few years ago. The owners had a big, fancy property in France. There weren’t any animals involved. The HOs were offering the use of a separate unit in return for the sitters caring for the grounds, opening and closing the gates every day, driving them to and from the airport, chauffeuring them to and from restaurants, etc. Essentially, they were looking for caretakers in return for housing.
I don’t know how often TH people look at postings, but that one wasn’t that much worse than many posts. We’ve had sits where HOs expect you to walk their dogs several times a day (max 2-3 hour intervals) and clean up animal waste inside the house (NOT the occasional accident, but regular, approved occurrences). We’re learning to spot those kinds of sits and avoid them like the plague.
The fact that TH allows these kinds of attitudes and situations is one of the reasons that we feel that TH is biased towards HOs over sitters. There are probably sitters who also take advantage, but they are the more vulnerable party.
Ha. I bet you didn’t expect an extended rant, did you? Thanks for letting me get some of our grievances off my chest. TH usually doesn’t pay any attention to our comments or suggestions, so I use every opportunity I can to give feedback.