Clarify purpose of THS

Just to be clear. I joined THS with the idea that I could travel the world, house sit and maybe take care of a pet, but be able to go out and visit museums, resturants, sites etc. All of the post are about taking care of pets and some require the pet to be taken out or walked 3 times a day which could conflict with being out and about. I pay my own way to the location, I am not getting paid and I am not paying the owners to stay in their homes. My next house sit wants her dog taken out every 4 hours and is use to someone being at home at all times. I am begininig to wonder what I signed up for.
Thanks for clarification and comments which are more than welcomed.
Tamara

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Hi Tamara,
This is what I see when I go to THS homepage. Pets are the priority.

I hope that answers your question.

Edit:
I should also mention that this doesn’t mean that there aren’t suitable housesits for you. Most dogs are on a schedule and for the most part they need to be taken out every 1-5, depending on their age. If you’re looking for a free place to stay without making the pets a priority you might get lucky to find a place where HO only has plants for you to look after, or a hamster, or introvert cat that only requires you to feed them a couple of times a day.

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Hi @Tgo53 , It’s called Trusted Housesitters but it’s really Trusted House and Pet Sitters. Very rarely will you find a house that does not include a pet. However, not leaving the pet alone at all is a very big ask. Since this is not what you want, do not apply for these sits. These are better for digital nomads that are home most of the time working. Most dogs need to go out 3 to 4x a day. If you want a lot of freedom to go out, look for sits with cats. Choose your sits carefully and make sure you are comfortable with the requirements. There are dog owners that will let you be away for 6-8 hours on occasion and some owners who will get a dog walker for the day or two that you want to be out sightseeing. But most of all you should be an animal lover as that’s the crux of this service.

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Hi @Tgo53
Pets should always come first and definitely in an emergency. I had to change my plans on a sit near Barcelona as one of the cats i was sitting for had a seizure and while the owner thought the cat was unlikely to have another one so soon after the first one and was happy for me to be gone for hours, I was not!
Having said that many HO’s understand sitters want some downtime and to see the local area. How much depends on the demands of a HO.
I turned down a sit in a great location and on my bucket list recently as the HO wanted his cats feeding 5 times a day and also asked me to walk next doors dog 4 times a day.
Maybe a retired sitter would be happy with these requirements but I need time to at least work a few hours a day.

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Also a thing to remember: when taking care pets, it’s not enough to be around only to feed and take them out, and spend the rest of the time out and about. The pets need company and cuddles as well.

Our dog and cats like having people around, although they normally just sleep in the yard or another room most of the day. But the precense is still important. Now saying this, I don’t mean the sitter should stay in the house all day! Our dog is fine left alone 3-4 daily and 6-8 hours once or twice a week, but needs to be taken out 3 times per day.

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An other point: it is true, that you pay your own way to the location, you are not getting paid and you are not paying the owners to stay in their homes. It’s also true that while on the sit you DON’T pay for your accommodation, electricity, heating/cooling etc. You have a whole house/apartment with a kitchen, living space, washing machine etc. in your use. As I’ve understood, many sitters also count having pets around a bonus.

So, I would say it’s a fair exchange and a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s your job to only choose to apply on sits, that you feel comfortable with.

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Our family has been petsitting for 6 months and some petsits are more work than others. Over time I’ve learned to ask better questions. I was very tired with the first one as there were 3 dogs which included a puppy, senior dog, and a middle aged. I was asked to walk 2-3 times a day, with the senior dog to walk with the puppy and the middle dog to walk by herself. The two older dogs didn’t like the puppy and they didn’t have a fenced yard so needed to take them to potty in the front yard or on walks. Other sits were much easier in comparison and the cat sits did provide more flexibility to visit the local area. Since we work and homeschool during the week it’s easier to spend time with the animals and take care of them. The times when we want to do heavy duty excursions and sightseeing, we rent a cabin or get a hotel

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Like others have said, while the term used is ‘housesitting’ the overwhelming majority of people use this service because of their animals. So yes, the service might not be what you anticipated. But I do think that pets being the focus does come across clearly on the site.

Whether or not this way of traveling is a good fit will depend on how someone likes to travel. It sounds like you would find the responsibilities a hindrance, which isn’t wrong or bad. I am sure many people feel the same way. This is especially true if you aren’t a big animal person.

My husband and I really enjoy traveling but we also are kind of homebodies, so while we enjoy exploring a new area, we aren’t ones to be out and about all day every day partaking in touristic activities. So we don’t find the responsibilities that come with house and pet sitting any sort of hindrance. We love animals and it’s fun to have them around.

But I don’t consider assignments where the animals can’t be left alone at all or at least for several hours. It is important to have some flexibility and ability to do things if we so chose. Also, when I see animals that can’t be left alone for hardly any time at all, it makes me wonder if they have behavioral issues.

I notice a lot of sitters on here talk about how they pay their own way to get to the sits, how they don’t get paid to do what they do as if they are begrudingly doing the HO some sort of favor, when they are getting something highly valuable in return–a free place to stay. Even if it isn’t some high end accommodation in a top vacation spot, it is still a great deal.

That isn’t to criticize people saying this–I get that it can be challenging at times. But it seems a lot of sitters can experience sometimes strong resentment about something they are voluntarily choosing to do, and that can certainly diminish the experience.

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The purpose of THS to me is to serve as a platform for matches between responsibilities and people. So personally, I apply only for sits that match what I’m willing and able to handle. I’m learning as I go what that looks like.

For instance, I telecommute f/t and had a sit where I was taking care of a puppy and a cat I had to keep separate, because the puppy would chase her and try to bite her. The HOs didn’t mention that and I didn’t know to ask. The large-breed puppy also wanted attention nonstop, including jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box during my Zoom meetings. She’d play bite me and her teeth were sharp, so I sure wouldn’t want her biting the poor cat, who’d come in and out of the house at will. I had to protect her, including interrupting my meetings to do that at times. It turned out to be stressful, because of course I didn’t want to let my coworkers down. Knowing such possibilities, I won’t accept puppy sits in the future.

If I were traveling somewhere and wanted to be out a lot, I also wouldn’t accept sits where pets couldn’t be left alone for long stretches.

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Over time you learn to read the ads very carefully. I am retired and I mainly look after cats, most of whom are very independent and need love and care but are able to be left so you can go out. I make sure I say I want to explore the area on my application and find I am left lots of info on where to go. I choose an area where I want to visit and as a bonus I have nice accommodation. I wouldn’t look after a puppy they are a lot of work or multiple dogs as I am a solo sitter. It does work well for me I like to sit in winter when it is less busy and as a bonus my household bills are then also much reduced!

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Hi Tamara,
Welcome to pet sitting! There is a wide variety of requirements from pet owners on this site ranging from people who say that their pets can’t be left alone(I wouldn’t apply for those sits) to simply just feeding and playing with cats in the morning and evening. It’s important to read the responsibilities to determine which sits to apply for.
Anyone who has had a dog knows that they need to go to relieve themselves every 4-6 hours depending on the dog. That’s why the owner is allowing us to stay in their home, to take care of those situations. The way we handle sightseeing is we usually arrive a day or 2 early or stay later where we do the sightseeing in the region. Then during the sits, we check out the area close to the home where we can still adhere to the needs of the pet as that’s the reason we’re there. We were able to spend 3 months in New Zealand and only had to pay for a hotel 8 nights.
If sightseeing is your major focus, you need to only apply to sits that would work for you. There are very few sits that don’t involve pets so you might look for sits without dogs. Review the responsibilities carefully, ask lots of questions, and hopefully you can find sits that work out for you and the owners.
Dan

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I am curious why you applied for a sit that required you to be at home all of the time, when that doesn’t seem to be what you want?

There is a filter button where you can rule out dogs, as they take a lot more attention and from what you have said that isn’t something that you want to give. Whereas there are others (like us) that love being around dogs and spending time with them as we miss having our own.

Go for rabbits, cats, etc instead, there’s plenty to pick from, where you don’t need to be at home so much. But read the advert you apply for, and it will say what they expect.

There are some where there aren’t any animals, but they are few and far between.

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@Tgo53 it looks like you have fallen victim to the style of publicity that has more recently been promoted - free holidays with no responsibilities. That’s not what we do here, as many have pointed out in this thread.

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@Tgo53 to answer your question “Clarify the purpose of THS “

The purpose of THS is that it a platform to introduce sitters to hosts/ hosts to sitters . Its ethos is that it’s a mutual exchange where no party receives / expects payment .

That’s it - Nothing more.

Hosts offer their home to the sitter and they list the responsibilities that they want the sitter to take care of , in exchange for staying in their home without charge. Sitters are able to apply to any of the available listings that suits them.

It’s possible to browse listings before becoming a paid up member and that shows that on an average day there are 6,000+ hosts worldwide looking for sitters and less than 10 of these will have no pets to care for.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t combine travel, house and pet sitting and visiting new cities , museums, places of interest.

We’ve been able to find sits where we could care for the pet and have time go out and about .
Usually in the responsibilities section of a listing it will state how long the pet can be left for . So we know if it’s suitable for us and we won’t apply if the responsibilities seem too onerous for us . We also have a phone or video call to discuss everything with the host before accepting a sit

Currently on sit number 7 - this time with a cat - who spends most of the day doing their own thing outside -and there is a cat flap . So as long as they have been fed in the morning we can go out during the day if we want to . We are always back for dinner and cat cuddles in the evening and it’s working well for the cat, host and us .

We have also done a sit with 1 very lovely dog who didn’t like to be left alone for too long ( we knew about this upfront) but could be taken along to the local places of interest, parks cafes etc and the host suggests places that might be of interest where we could go with the dog and gave us a pass for a popular local visitor attraction. It was a great sit and we’re going back as we really miss the dog and the local area has loads of places to visit.

If you have the mindset that this is a platform for mutual exchange - think about what you are willing to give to the host ( in terms of time spent on pet care ) in exchange for staying in their home . Apply for only those sits that match the amount of time you are happy to spend looking after pets / balanced with time you’ll spend visiting places that you want to experience.

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I am on my 7th sit, and I have been able to do that kind of thing.

1.) Two dogs near the center of Brussels: regular dog walks in magnificent parks in the neighbourhood, restaurants around the corner, tram/subway stop close by.
2.) A dog and two cats in a wine village near Beaune: dog walks through the vinyards, cycling trips to Beaune for restaurants and museums.
3.) A sit without pets in Bologna: tram rides to the center, train trips to Ravenna etc.
4.) An old dog in Basel: three very short walks around the block, cycling trips up and down the Rhine, the Roman ruins in Augst, tram rides into the center, I bought a museum card for the area and I used it quite a bit. Some museums I visited twice.
5.) A medieval home in the Dordogne with a cat: I had a very busy social life there, several parties, quite a bit of wine, trips to Michelin-starred restaurants and castles.
6.) The cutest maltezer dog at the Costa del Sol: breakfast with the dog under a table at a café on the beach promenade, trying to learn Spanish with locals, there was a fiesta, plenty of restaurants
7.) Lovely well-behaved border collie in Groningen, close to a large park, but I can take him anywhere on walks to the center. He sits under the table when I am reading the paper at sidewalk cafés. And he can wait outside when I am in a store.

And I spend time on the couch, computering, pet close at hand.

So I am enjoying this :slight_smile:

Next is a few days near Geneva, on the way to a month in Provence. That dog is said to have some separation anxiety, so I guess that will mean a lot of walking in the hills, and no visits of museums in Avignon. That is perfectly fine.

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If you want to be out all day, this might not suit you. Depending on the pet, you can go out and sight see for a few hours, but if you’re out all day, most pets will feel lonely.

For me, this has become more about slow travel, exploring an area but not going very far. I do a lot of dog sitting and hate leaving dogs for more than 3-4 hours, even if owners tell me that it’s OK. It’s a bit easier with cats who have access to outdoors; I’d feel more comfortable staying out longer then, but still wouldn’t be gone all day.

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@pietkuip what wonderful unique travel experiences so poetically described- you should be the advert for THS ! Or feature in TrustedTimes

@Angela_L what do you think ?

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Great observation and advice Ty

Sorry !!..If I commit to a sit for 1 home owner the homeowner next door will be using their own THS. I don’t think it’s even proper to have a THS care for their neighbor’s
:person_gesturing_no: animals during a house/ pet sit! That’s absurd!!..

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I’m also wondering why you confirmed that house sit and how you got the house sit as surely you must have known what was involved before you accepted that sit!
To be blunt it seems that you have been taken in by the emphasis placed on recent advertising by THS on travelling the world free when the priority is looking after pets, very occasionally just a house, with the benefit of sightseeing in different places. I feel you have come to the wrong place.

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