Does Age Matter - Do owners pay attention to a sitter's age?

As an owner I always preferred more mature , experienced sitters believing they would be more responsible and would keep this OCD owner’s immaculate house exactly as I’d handed it over, my sits were anywhere from 3 -12 months.

Now why did I do that? … History of leaving a home in the “hands” of the young (don’t ask)

One sit I listed had 20+ applications, one from a young couple 23 & 27 who were on their first sit in Costa Rica, why didn’t I pass on their application? The message was so beautifully written, personalized, professional and yet incredibly warm and sincere, their profile was just the same and straight away I wanted to know more about the author of this wonderful application.

After a couple of messages, we simply connected and I chose them from the other mature and more experienced sitters. I didn’t have pets of course and all Charli and Ben had to do was care for and enjoy our lovely home, complete with Christmas decorations and a new SUV … Whistler here we come!

While on our sit Charli joined a quilting class and left me the most gorgeous quilt as a thank you, something I will treasure always.

That was 7 years ago. In 2018 I went to her wedding when she married Freddy. Life long friends after all age is no barrier to friendship.

Moral of my experience, the date on a birth certificate is not a factor, attitude and ability is …

So does age matter?

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As biased, new & keen sitters aged 57 and 66 - I have to answer YES! :wink:

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I do think age factors into our decision, though we look also at so many other things. We interview (video as often as possible) the top 3 (or more) to be sure we can communicate easily, to answer questions, and to see that they light up when talking about their animals. I think we look for people with a similar vibe to ours so its less jarring to the animals. Sometimes we find new friends that way.

We’ve had some young ones. Sometimes they are fabulous but yes, I’ve had some issues.

When looking for a sit, I also assume that I, as a 62 year old am more likely to be selected by someone in my demographic than when its posted by a 30 something. I wonder if others have that experience as well.

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As 30 year olds, we sometimes find age to be a factor when getting selected for a sit. We also look a lot younger than we are, so that doesn’t seem to help. We are both professionals though, and once the homeowners find out our line of work, I think we are then respected more. I save lives as a nurse and Jordan shapes our future generation as a teacher, so we are more than capable to look after the most precious parts of people’s lives. Not everyone sees this though, and with us never owning a home of our own, I think that can be a downfall for us. Now that we’ve done this for 3 years and have a collection of amazing reviews, we don’t have to deal with this quite as often, but with sits being saturated with applicants at the moment, we do wonder if they took one look at our picture, and skip us. At the end of the day though, we still get our calendar filled with the opportunity to take care of amazing pets and meet such lovely people, that it doesn’t matter. Discrimination is so present in our society and for us, it’s something we just shrug off. We rather hit it out of the park with a couple than have to prove how responsible we are despite being young.

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I always had the feeling that there would be an ‘expiry date’ on older sitters, especially when a sit involved energetic and powerful dogs. This myth was busted one time when Jane, an owner we had sat for multiple times, took on 80 year olds. And it turned out to be one of the best times her dogs had had.

Of course Murray applied for the sit knowing he understood the requirements and was up to the task. And Jane was willing to accept that.

However I think it is good sense to apply only for sits where the requirements are within your ability and make you look forward to every days opportunities. We should not apply for sits which are beyond our fitness and health levels

So to get an owner to think positively about your application to share with their energetic pets without thinking about ‘are they too old’ let them know that age doesn’t matter for you in that circumstance by describing your capabilities in relation to requirements,

Must add that in the 127 sits Debra and I have done, only 1 owner in that time has taken the younger of the applying sitters. There is hope for us all.

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Finding the best “fit” for your home, pet and circumstances is the priority. If the communication has been honest and open (via video or other means) then this is the deciding factor not categorising by age.

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We think age may matter, just like other things may or may not be important to someone. We’re in our 30s and have experienced being turned down because we weren’t older. But just like age, we’ve also been turned down because we’re a couple, because we’re not both female, because we weren’t local, or we were local, and because we’re experienced sitters.

In all cases it comes down to what what @Joanna-JWalking mentioned, it’s all about the best fit. House sitting is a mutual give and take and not all sits are for us and we’re not right for all homeowners. Just as we’ve had our applications turned down (for known and unknown reasons), we’ve also turned down homeowners. Since we house sit because we love the experience and the community, we want to be sure it’s a good fit all around and that both us and the homeowner will be happy with the experience.

So just like anything else, age could be a factor for comfort, relatability, a personal bias, or ability to preform a task. And that’s okay, as long as we’re transparent, honest and kind.

Finally, we must add, that we do very much appreciate it when a preference like this is put in the listing. It sets expectations and saves everyone time :slight_smile:

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I love that story so much Angela! We started 6 years ago when I was 23 and my partner was 28, so we are definitely on the younger side. We used to feel bummed and like we were being looked over in favor of older applicants, but over time we have learned to just focus on making the right connection. That has led to many years of happy house sitting and we now feel very confident in our abilities to take top notch care of pets and homes, that if someone prefers an older sitter, we don’t take it personally at all. We think it’s super important that both sides have full trust in the other before agreeing to the sit.

Thinking back on our sits, most of them have been with folks in their 30s-50s, so I’m not sure if we have been turned down for not being older, or it just happened that way. We also tend to prefer urban house sits as opposed to countryside homes where a lot of folks prefer to retire.

And yes, I think it’s helpful when these kinds of preferences are stated in a listing, this helps save everyone’s time. We personally don’t apply to house sits that state “mature applicants only” as we know this means retired.

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We have done several housesits for 30 somethings, but I do believe we don’t get as many in that age group as we do with the 60+ group.

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I have always had the word ‘mature’ in my title. I think homeowners want quick reassurance, particularly when there are lots of applicants right now.

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Agreed, very important to know what the requirements of the pet are. If you need to take an energetic dog, especially multiple times a day, for a walk you need to be sure you can do that.

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Superb story.
I always reply to all applicants when I’m looking for sitters, but I must confess if I select a young couple (i.e around 30) I want them to have at least 3 reviews, references. I much prefer people having owned pets all their life. Young or not.
For sure I’m the anxious type of owner. Reason why ? The first time I’ve chosen a couple to look after our 2 dogs and one cat, they were retired, it was their first experience (they had lost their own dog lately) and did not follow our instructions : we were far away (Perou) they never told us one of our dogs fell ill suddenly, although they had gone to our vet 3 times, . So age is not a guarantee of well being…
But when I’m looking for a pet sit myself, I’ve been very sad to see that young owners (I look at their faces on the photos) NEVER answered me. Of course I can’t generalize, I’m a new member, but it happens to me a dozen times.
Am I too old for them (I 'm 70, my husband 75) ? I do precise in my listing we are in good shape but for sure I shall not run after a dog, playing for hours. I do see that with my own puppy who is 5 months old !

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Being new and inexperienced as a sitter (but I’ve always owned dogs and cats) I applied to many owners, none of the young ones ever replied. So i guess being 70, and looking like, young owners were afraid. Now i don’t even apply to young people’s adds

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127 sits ? In how many years

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Hi Provence, 127 sits in 10 years. We have been fortunate to have been doing house sitting continuously for 10 years being able to go from one sit to another seamlessly. And we would love this to continue after the world reopens,

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So you don’t have any home now ? How do you manage in between 2 sits ? You rent, you go to a B& B ? It must be hard with the Covid ?? Do you work digital ? You need some money I guess. I do regret not to have known pet sitting when I was younger.

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Hello again Provence,

I am not quite sure how things eventuated the way they did over those 10 years, however we were extremely fortunate to be able to have one house sit after the other with enough time for travel between them. For example flying from Istanbul to Whitehorse over 50 hours and travelling 300km by car at the end of a house sit in the morning to start another in the afternoon in France. Of course we used stop over accomodation where necessary between linking travel connections.

An example of our fortune was a group of friends in Turkey that individually wanted us to housesit around the same time. We made them aware that we had a 3 month visa period that we could stay in Turkey and as they knew each other, as we did, they got together and worked out a holiday roster that allowed us to go from one house to the other (a couple just a 100m stroll) by foot over a 3 month period.

Or if I look at it the other way perhaps we were extremely organised in locking everything together seemlessly. Haha!

When we started our adventure in 2010 we decided to close our own house up in Perth Western Australia for the 12 months travel we planned, though at that point we only had a 7week house sit organised in Thailand and had a one way ticket to there. We had no idea where was next.

Once things cascaded into us being able to secure house sits in other parts of the world, we decided to rent our own home for the whole time we were away. So fortunate for us we did have something to come home to and had in fact booked to return to Australia in March before Covid struck, to move back into our house and catch up with family and friends for a short while before departing again. Last November we planned and booked to return to Perth on March 17th which in retrospect was extremely timely. In fact part of that booking had a return component to go back to France on September 14th, travel and house sitting which is now impossible (for us and those owners) with strict restrictions in place.

The only change to our travelling plans we have made since Covid has changed the way the world interacts is that when we start to house sit travel again, we will simply close the door on our house, so in the event that we need to return for any reason we will have a place to move back into immediately.

I read how many full-time sitters, as we are, have had to make adjustments to their travel style and bunker down out of necessity as their commitment to this lifestyle was 100% shedding of all their possession for the opportunities that abound. I feel for those people however do smile that in all cases I read a combination of our THS community and the instinct to survive this has surfaced and made those people safe.

Also Debra and I reflect on the fact that we took the opportunity all those years ago to embark on something unknown and have not, in one case, regretted it.

Regards
Peter

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Fantastic. If you are in Provence one day i would love to meet you to discuss about your expériences. We should be happy to invite you for lunch. The owners in Turkey were turkish or foreigners ?
with so long stays abroad, how do you manage if you need to visit à doctor, go to hôpital ?

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Hi Provence

Thanks for the invite. It’s always nice to meet other THS members face-to-face.

When the World reopens we surely shall visit if we are in your area.

Doctors and hospitals are visited only in necessity, We have experienced that you can always find a doctor who can speak English, if not very well at least enough to understand. And as most of our house sits are for English people living abroad they always have recommendations. Otherwise we just use our local language skills, ask a local English person to assist/come with us or look up the correct terms in the dictionary. For those time’s over the past 10 years that has worked very well.

One time in France I had to have a small day procedure on my hand. I do speak French (at least Deb understands me) and I found an English speaking surgeon. In addition to performing the procedure, he went around to each different section of the day ward on the day and explained to all the medical people what was expected of them treating a foreigner, his important patient.

Take care.

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What a wonderful story Angela. As you’ve mentioned, age doesn’t matter. When fitness comes into it owners should be honest about the strength of their animals, and sitters need to seriously consider if they’re up the job if physical fitness is necessary, as it can be for some strong dogs, horses etc.

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