I’m fascinated to know if other sitters have had experience of pets missing their owners. We never wanted to leave our own dogs with strangers for fear that they would be miserable and pine for us. However, in all the many sits that we’ve done, we have never experienced an animal that seems to be missing its family. Maybe it’s just a case of their needs (food/play/affection etc) are being met by the sitter/s. We always find it difficult to tell an owner that their pet isn’t moping/off their food/lying in a corner weeping but, to be honest, have never experienced this. We always try to gee the animals up ready for the return so that they bounce around ecstatically with tails wagging but really don’t feel that it’s a big deal. Comments?
You are right if you keep the same routine and give them plenty of love we have never had a pet that moped around or showed any form of sadness. Sometimes I think some of the pets have a better time with us as we do not have the busy life the owners may have. We have time for two walks a day EVERY day.
I do remember two Staffies that the owner absolutely loved, but when she came home they wouldn’t go to her but sat on my lap. She was devastated!! Of course that changed when we left.
I always try to spend some time with the homeowner before they leave, maybe an overnight or at least a few hours. I find it settles the pets to see you talking or having a meal with owners.
If there are young children I have found that dogs can be protective of them, but if they see you with the kids they relax much quicker. And of course one of the main reasons for THS is so that pets can remain in their normal surroundings where routines can be continued.
Some british owners wrote on our feed back their pets did not even seem to miss them when they left (we had spent 2 days all together).
One german lady seemed quite vexed because her dog followed me when I was leaving…
On my side I was not vexed but very happy when I received pictures of my cat and dog obviously happy with our pet sitters. None of my pets (3 dogs, 1 cat since I used sitters) seemed to have missed us while we were away, they were happy when we came back.
I haven’t noticed that they miss their owners, they might initially (I had a dog who moped for a day but soon got over it). I guess it depends also how much time the owners spend with them and their particular breed’s characteristics. I’m sure I’ve paid more attention to some of the animals than the owners, but then they’ve got me 100% whereas their owners might be working all day. They certainly have all been excited when the owners returned.
I believe pets miss their owners. I also believe that they enjoy all the attention and love they receive from us house sitters.
Let’s look at it this way. The typical day is not exciting for a pet. It is just everyday daily life. But then a house sitter shows up, from whom they suddenly get the full attention. Feeding routines and petting sessions are different. Maybe cuddling on the couch is longer than expected. Dogs are now taken on long walks or even day trips. Homeowners always say that with a house sitter their pets can live their normal life. I think it is not the normal life, for the pets, it is in some way a vacation. And who has fun does not miss. If the everyday life would return with us Housesitter and not every day would be an adventure day, I think we would notice that they miss their owner.
Nevertheless, until now, all our pets we had sit were happy when their owners came home again.
I once cared for 2 large dogs who belonged to a family with 3 children…I didn’t make enough noise & can assure you the doggies missed the chaos .
Cat sitter here
So many times I’ve heard ‘The cat will pine for me, but should warm up to you in a few days’, when the cats are a cuddly, purring heap in my lap as soon as the owner has left!
Affection is affection I suppose. I’d always thought I was my cat’s favourite person too!
The first time we sat for, what has become a regular sit, the dog didn’t eat well for 3 days and cried when the owners left. He was (and is) very attached to his ‘masters’. The third time we came to sit, he slept the whole night in our guest room with us while his owner was still in the house!
In general, I do notice that dogs take about 5-7 days to become fully relaxed and at ease. We mostly do sits longer than 2 weeks, so we have time to observe and analyze Its just little things that I notice sometimes. Although we follow much of the same routine, we respond and act differently than their owners. But, we do often care for dogs that have a strong relationship with their owners (meaning spending a lot of time together). I do notice that dogs that are used to housesitters adapt much easier, also those who are not used to have so much company around during the day. We have literally seen some dogs bloom while we sat for them.
When the owners return, we always make sure to get the dog a bit excited by letting them know that something is going to happen, and we stay out of the way when owners come in the house. So they can freely greet and hug their pet.
I think that some dogs really need time to adapt.
Good point made regarding “it’s in some way a vacation” for the pet(s). That’s exactly how I feel with every housesit.
No, the pets don’t seem to miss their owners. I think it’s because I’m there just to take care of them and don’t have to rush off to work or anything. I stick closely to their routines, which is the most important thing to most animals. I’m quiet and gentle and give them lots of attention, affection and playtime.
On more than one occasion I’ve been able to send pictures on day one, of the ‘shy’ cat having a cuddle.
We did a repeat sit where we bathed and spent hours brushing the long haired dog. I could tell the HO thought I’d overstepped the bounds when I WhatsApped her. When we had our ‘debrief’ in the morning after they arrived home very late and the dog sat with his head on my knee, I was delighted. She obviously was too, the son got sent out to buy a large bottle of gin for us to go away with!
i sent pictures too to an owner who criticized me to do so ! I had “bothered” her (she was belonging to another organization)… People are so different ! I guess we behave like we would like sitters to behave with our pets (when we own some and are both sitters and owners)
That’s why it’s always worth asking owners before they leave whether they would like pics, videos, even Skype calls (yes I’ve had owners request Skype pet calls, I’m more than happy to oblige) and the frequency, that way everyone is happy.
Yes, they definitely miss their owners and it’s the older ones that we notice. On one of our recent sits we thought it would b3 the cat that would pine but it was one of the dogs. She walked and ate normally but sometimes I saw her looking longingly at the door aiming for someone to walk in. I tried my utmost to comfort her, cuddles in the evening, lots of petting and throwing the ball, cuddles while watching TV, long walks but she still had the wistfulness in her eyes.
Once the owner was home I spoke to her about it, “it’s ok, she does it all the time, she loves sympathy and attention”.
What an actress?
We find cats often don’t eat as much as expected, and we’ve definitely had a dog who knew when she would expect the son back from school…
Ugh, this is the hardest thing for me as HO. We rarely leave our senior kitty and now she’s used to having us here 24/7. We have a 3 month road trip coming up and she was supposed to come with us, but we decided she’ll be happier here than on the road that long. She does not like car rides. I’m so torn, she’s hyperthyroid and early-mid stage kidney disease and I don’t know how long we have with her. I worry a sitter won’t get her to eat as much as I do, or won’t notice when she’s feeling poorly. Worrying and missing her is going to take some fun out of our travels, but I can’t stay here through another wildfire season, it is too stressful. We have a THS sitter coming who says he’s got it all covered, I am just hoping she falls in love with him! Even if she ignores us when we return, if she’s eating, sleeping (and pooping) I’ll be happy.
One of the things we love about house sitting is seeing the joy and reassurance from home owners when they return to discover their pets really have been happy at home in their normal routines being cared for by other pet lovers. But we’ve been through that first time (when we were still pet owners) and know the anguish it can bring up the first time, particularly if your pet is poorly.
My suggestion (if not already done), would be to ask your sitter to provide you with regular updates, and also make sure you have a good handover where your cat can get used to your sitter a little with you around. That also provides sitters with insight into how you care for your pet (everyone is different) and how to administer any meds if necessary that won’t stress either of them.
With older pets or poorly ones we need to keep their routines as unchanged as possible. It sounds like your sitter has it all covered and you’ll find over 3 months they really bond! Like you mention, our most recent HO said that if the dogs are indifferent on their return she knows they love their sitters!!
Let us know how it goes, and do share more at some time about your trip ! We all need a bit of travel inspiration these days Have a wonderful time!
Thanks for the reassurance @Vanessa-Admin! Our kitty is pretty adaptable but 3 months on the road would be difficult. She does not like riding in the car. The only time we’ve left her more than a few days was March 2020, the lockdown began while we were in Mexico. Our THS sitters were amazing. They stayed an extra two weeks and sent lots of snuggle pics. She was happy to see us return but otherwise just the same. It’s me, I worry so much! I’ve had two prior bad experiences (not THS) with kitties disappearing when I’ve been away. One never came home Fortunately her thyroid meds are a tasty treat, she doesn’t wander, and I have lots of tempting tricks to get her to eat. Hopefully we can all relax and enjoy our adventures!
Speaking of… we are heading north from CA to PNW, we’ll be visiting friends in OR and WA, staying all over Puget Sound, kayaking around Orcas Island, then heading west to the coast. We were supposed to go to BC and it looks like the border might open in time, but if not we will be happy camping in northwestern Washington and visiting friends. It’s been a long year+, we are vaccinated and ready roll!