Hi, can I ask what people think about friends of the HO dropping in to see how ones pet is getting on with the sitter?
This will be my first time I have someone sit and of course care deeply that all goes well for my beloved cat. I know I should trust but wonder if the sitter or in our case sitters would mind if a friend or two came to say hello?
No. When I hear or see this written in a house sit ad, I shake my head & walk away. If you can’t trust someone like me who’s travelled from x or y, often far from home, then it’s not worth my time. It’s almost as bad as security cameras etc.
So, no & no. I communicate with owners daily & am 100% honest about how the sit’s going plus heaps of pics. Perhaps meeting the sitter prior & even seeking those more experienced with 40+ sits may be the answer you seek.
I agree with @RunnerC and you are on point when you’ve said it yourself, “I know I should trust”. That’s the core concept of THS, and you need to trust the people you select. It’s not an agency sending workers - it’s people you personally selected. I mean this kindly when I say that if you can’t find a way to be comfortable with who you choose, then maybe you are not a good fit for THS. It’s not for everyone.
You may want to consider adding to your listing that you would prefer applicants who you (and your pets) can meet beforehand. That way you can assure yourself that they are a good fit. However, by doing that you do limit the sitters who will be available.
You can let your sitters know what level of communication - texts, videos, photos, whatever - will ease your insecurities, but also be as reasonable as possible with your requests.
No matter how you frame it, your friends are not coming merely to say hello, but rather to check up on the sitters. Also keep in mind that you’re asking sitters to allow people into the home that they have never screened and know nothing about. I certainly would not do a sit with those conditions attached.
I have a different take on this … yes we are all different.
Seven years ago I’m living in Vancouver BC and I apply for a sit in LA … great area, lovely home, the adorable Stella and first time, very nervous owners … especially Brian the husband. They were going to Israel for 3 weeks.
We had copious amounts of communication and we confirmed the sit … but before that Eileen said I have lots of friends in the area and they might drop by as they love Stella and to see if you need anything, was that OK … really fine by me.
A little way into our friendship (I have since made good friends with many of her friends and neighbors and have sat for them) I said you know the first time I looked after Stella and you had friends drop in, was it to check on me? … She smiled that lovely smile she has and said yes, I was so nervous even though I really knew it would be alright but after the first week they were texting me to say Stella is so happy, Angela is lovely, can we have her stay too.
I had absolutely no problem with friends dropping in and have to add they didn’t barge in or stay for hours or were intrusive in anyway and I knew why they were “Saying Hello” … it wasn’t that Eileen didn’t trust me it was the whole experience and taking that first leap of faith you sometimes need a little extra soft place to land.
I looked after Stella 7 times, when she passed away Eileen and I grieved together … in May Brian and Eileen will be staying with us in Scotland,.
My key takeaway from this conversation is that you need to be sure to mention it when you interview people so they are aware up front. Some will agree, some won’t. But it’s only fair to let them know before they’ve committed to the sit.
Not sure I would be happy about having friends dropping in, but I have had some homeowners connect me to friends they often walk the dogs with and this was great for everyone. It helped the dog keep a routine, gave the homeowner a report that the dogs had bonded well with me and were happy, gave me the benefit of having someone show me the local trails plus I made some new friends and also got invited to sit for them in future! It was a win-win!
Yeah, actually meeting the neighbours and friends is one of the things I look forward to. We usually meet out walking, and a few times we’ve been invited over to a neighbour’s for coffee or even for dinner. And people recognize the dog and come up and chat with us. It’s awesome.
I agree with the others that no, friends should not be dropping by during the sit. What I would be happy about though is being introduced to a friend(s) of yours to maybe call on to go for a walk with or meet for coffee, but that would be my choice.
I understand your nervousness but like the others I’m not ok with people dropping in to check on me. You should be checking out your sitter via questions, video calls etc to make sure you are comfortable with them before you select them. The key word for THS is trust.
What if the sitters, who so vehemently say NO, would not think of this as a control visit, but as a direct contact to people who know the pets well? Not only that, but they might just show real interest in how everything is going and might be able to answer any questions, or help with anything, which might be too trivial to bother the HO with?
Of course they shouldn’t just drop by without the sitter’s consent, but I sometimes think that sitters, who have been doing this for a long time and act responsibly and do a great job, sometimes need to try to also see the HO’s side:
We don’t know you, we don’t know how good you are able to take care of our pets and property even if you have 50+ 5-star reviews, and it’s only natural to ask friends or family to check if everything is alright while we are away.
Some do it actively by knocking on the door and others do it without the sitters being aware of it, but I am sure that lots of HOs ask neighbors to have an eye on sitters and home. I know that we do.
This is something that I have found to be a very nice part of this lifestyle. It has never been or felt like “we are checking on you to make sure you are doing a good job” but rather we are checking on you, that you are comfortable and you are not alone. I have enjoyed and have had many wonderful experiences with friends and neighbors. It is especially nice when you are in a very remote area which is something I do often, like my upcoming repeat trip to Wales.
Right now I have enjoyed tea, dinner and brunch at a local place with my host’s mum who lives literally across the street and lives alone. For me it greatly enhances the experience and has strengthened the relationships. The stories they share are priceless as I have learned things I would have never known about real life where I am and in general other people’s life experiences.
I feel the key is to offer and suggest meeting these people as resources, points of contact and support rather than being in a supervisory role.
and again this is just another example of how important it is to know yourself, your preferences and to assure that you accept an arrangement that best aligns with that.
Personally, I don’t like when anyone pops over. Even people I love. I find it rude and intrusive on my time and space and I resent it. I also generally don’t answer the door unless I’m expecting someone. To me just popping over without permission is a lack of manners and respect. For a few months a year I rent an apartment literally 15 feet from one of my best friends. Even he messages me before coming by because he knows that otherwise I just won’t answer the door.
All that said, if a HO said “My friend x usually walks doggo on tuesday at 6 pm and it’s a part of their routine, would you mind if they do it while you’re there?” or “Doggo and I usually meet up with friend and his dog at the park so they can play on Wednesday mornings, would you consider that?” I would say yes. I did a sit for an elderly cat that the HO’s son was attached to and she asked if he could come occasionally (after texting me first) to play with the kitty since he was likely going to die soon (and he did). Of course I said yes.
As I read through these excellent responses, I realize that I can relate to having experienced so many of these scenarios. I have had a neighbour stop by the first morning, supposedly to sell event tickets to the homeowner, and then say ‘oh yes, they’re away’, as she was looking right past me, into the home, rather than looking at me. She wasn’t a good actor. I text the homeowner to say that her neighbour was keeping an eye on things and we had a good laugh over it. That was a close-knit community where they socialized weekly and we were invited to all events. I am still in contact with some of the neighbours.
I have also had a homeowner who had me arrive two days early, and her main goal was to introduce me to friends so that I could establish a social circle, and it was enjoyable. I enjoyed lunch out with one, and attended the home of others for a small dinner/pool party. It was lovely.
I can recall many instances like that. I think the important thing for me is what @Amparo said:
So “mum” just stopped by because she knows I am leaving and gave me her full contact info “in case” I need anything while I am traveling on this side of the world or if I just wanted to call or write.
It made me realize that people are also curious of this lifestyle and maybe they just want to have someone to talk to. It’s been a rough last couple of years and I feel a strong need for human contact. I am happy to be that conductor, for them as well as for myself.
We also wouldn’t feel very comfortable if someone dropped by during a sit (unless absolutely necessary). It has never happened to us that someone explicitly stated that someone would come to check up on us, but there have been unannounced visits by family / friends for no apparent reason during one sit (we didn’t come again when she asked us to do a repeat sit). Trust your gut feeling, pick somebody that seems to truly love animals and leave the rest to chance. It’s fine, though, to introduce us to family / friends beforehand. We have also had wine / pizza with contacts that were given to us in small villages and we enjoyed that. It all depends on the attitude: it can be understood as either exertion of control / lack of trust or an opportunity to socialize / making sure that we’re comfortable.
I agree with this approach. I understand that a homeowner, especially a first time homeowner, may feel better knowing that other folks on the ground are in touch with their sitter. It’s also nice to have a familiar face in the neighbourhood, company on the odd walk or someone knowledgeable about the area around. As a homeowner myself I know my neighbours would be watching my place whether I asked them to or not, and it’s nice to know the neighbours have your back when you’re away.
However, I’m not a fan of the idea of drop-ins. Not only does it give the impression that there is a trust issue, but it doesn’t respect the sitters schedule. Like many others, I usually work full-time while I sit and much of my work is on video calls. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet but it would be both awkward and inconvenient to step away from a meeting to socialize with a neighbour who has just dropped in with the purpose of checking up on me.