Communication between pet parent and sitter

I have just found out how important communication is in our relationships. If I hadn’t, I would have probably walked away from a chance in a life time.
Her goes…… long story……so stay with me, and please just don’t comment about my story, tell your own to prove to all of us, communication can save the day.

We applied and were accepted for a sit in Boca del Toro, Panama. A tiny little island which could only be accessed by owners boat or water taxi. Excited was not the word, pick me of the ceiling. Being long distance sailors, once upon a time, Panama holds a magical essence and was a must visit place for us. Two months on an isolated island with only a dog and chickens for company. Bliss for us probably a nightmare for others. W got everything set up with the pet parent and then started to research and plan. Two months at the sit, then a month of independent travel and if we were lucky a trip through the canal on a sailing boat as line handlers.
A month ago we got a message, please can we set up a zoom meeting. With great anticipation we did but the news was not good. The pet parent had employed an estate manager to over see the work being done. He would be there with us for the two months of the sit. He would be living in the house, but a different part. Lots of other things had change as well. We were devastated, needed time to think so w left it like that until we could figure it out. My husband wrote a long email to the pet parent explaining lots of things. The isolation of the sit was the most appealing part, we like to be alone, we don’t need anyone to cook or clean for us, we can handle a small RIB on our own we are both qualified to high standards, and many more things. We decided to step back because it could become heated and we didn’t want to fall out.
Last week we got an email asking our thoughts. Both parties have had a long time to think and the pet parents attitude was totally different. She was willing to compromise and so were we. Long story short, we are going. Flights booked, inoculations partly done and everyone is happy. The manager is going to stay somewhere else but will be working on the estate during the day. The RIB will be at our disposal for shopping and emergencies, anything else we will use a water taxi. Lots of other things worked out as well.
Happy is not the word. It is definitely a chance of a lifetime but we could have quiet easily let it al boil over and miss it if we hadn’t communicated our worries and concerns.


How wonderful @ElsieDownie and a superb story of the importance of communication. Ian & I used to own and live on one of those tiny mangrove islands in Bocas at the entrance to Dolphin Bay. It’s where we began our house sitting adventures, both using sitters and when we sold, sitting for friends to see if it would work for us. We always used sailors as sitters after seeing so many issues with owners using travelers just passing through, unaccustomed to off-grid living and the harsh environment. We had no water taxi close… just our boat and using a radio was how we kept in contact with others in the archipelago. That alone is a challenge for some.

This is an environment where that communication you talk about is absolutely key. Living remotely, off-grid, traveling by boat (and mainly in daylight hours), living among the indigenous Indians employed by many of the people who’ve made Bocas home, is challenging, and not to be taken lightly for living or house sitting. I think you’ve made a good decision to give this plenty of thought and giving space to allow for compromise.

I have to say it’s one of the most supportive expat communities we’ve ever lived in. The remoteness brings people together in a way we haven’t see elsewhere. Very happy to put you in touch with some lovely people when you are settled if you are interested and there long enough - you’ll have a special time I’m sure! You’ve made me all nostalgic!!


Thank you Vanessa. It’s a dream come true for us and we would be very happy to meet some others there.
Yes, communication and compromise has been the key to this for us.


There is a Bocas house-sitting Facebook page. I posted on it when we were going to be passing. We almost got a sit, except that her housekeeping really felt her nose was being put out of joint so the HO decided just to let her do it.
However I connected with another couple before hand. We picked up a duty-free bottle of rum as we entered the country. They collected us in their boat and took us for a day out, we saw their island and those of two of their friends. On one island we all went snorkeling before going out to eat.
It was a wonderful day out, meeting new people, and truly reminding us of the kindness of strangers.
Have a fabulous time, join the group, in case you need support, and keep us all updated on how it goes


This is just so perfect and I am so happy for you! Yes, communication and establishing relationships is HUGE! Real quick story from me that happened just today.
I have spoken a few times about my sits in Wales in the middle of nowhere, same place, 400+ rustic part stone part brick in never ending state of renovation. No heat source except for wood burning fireplace. Make shift plumbing with pvc piping but a gorgeous AGA stove! Gorgeous twin white cats, one pheasant, an owl and lots of birds!
They messaged me today and told me their door is open and my bed is ready when I return next year. Sit or no sit, I am welcome.
The door is always open btw, it has no locks :joy:


We were in Bocas del Toro for a week in may 2019. We loved it. :heart_eyes:

Wow, pleased you were able to reach a compromise.
I hope you have a wonderful time.

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Wonderful story! definitely keeping communications going is key. So glad it worked out with everyone. We feel very lucky we haven’t had any major issues we have had to discuss and compromise on etc, (over 60 sits). We’ve had cancellations of course within the pandemic period which has been disruptive but nobody’s fault. Omg we would love to travel to Panama, how incredibly exciting.


Yes, it’s an incredible chance. We have done a lot of travel around the rim of countries but to spend so much time in such a beautiful area we are blown away. Lots of research. Lots of what ifs….we are going YAHOO


From recent experiences as sitters, prompt communication is a key. Although there are plenty of sits on the site and HOs are complaining they can’t find sitters, for the sits we applied to the HOs were taking days to respond or didn’t respond at all. One HO took a month to decide from 4-7 applicants. One HO stopped responding at all to our messages and we had to involve THS Support to be able to leave the sit on time.

For HOs we highly recommend downloading and installing the THS app. Even better if you add your sitter on WhatsApp, Viber, Skype or another instant messaging app. Texting is not always reliable, especially if you are travelling in a remote area without reception.

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Agree with everything you say.

If I was a ‘sitter’ this would be a slice of heaven for me! It sounds lovely!

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Thank you! Returning there end of this month and so very much looking forward to it.
I have shared some stories and pics you might enjoy. Search for Wales.