Health club analogy and age considerations

I’ll go ahead and be the Official Grouch in order speak directly. I’ve tried to discuss my concerns with those who run this service, but all I’ve received is evasive corporate platitudes.

This org reminds me of a nice health club, with all the amenities, that oversells its memberships. Eventually, people stop going to the club because of the overcrowding. Many never get around to quitting in a timely manner, however, so the club continues to make money based on what might be, rather than what is. Much of the focus at THS seems to be on attracting new members, and existing members are strongly encouraged to find new recruits. Hmm – aren’t most sits way too competitive already?

When I ask probing questions about this, the assumption is that it’s simply a personal complaint, and that I need more advice about how to sell ourselves. Sure, some of this comes from our not being able to land a sit, but as a socialist, I’m naturally interested in the health of the entire organism. I’d prefer to be involved in something that really works for everybody.

There are probably many reasons why I have not been able to land a sit, despite a great deal of experience with pets. Simple overcrowding is certainly a factor, as I’ve discussed. But here’s something else: ageism. My wife and I fall into the dreaded 65+ category – though our health statistics would compare favorably with those of anyone of any age. We just spent four months in the Cook Islands, where we were called “papa” and “nana” and treated with great respect. This threw the ageism we have seen in the US and UK into sharp relief. Of course it happens here – it happens everywhere.

THS has shown no interest in addressing these concerns. Consequently, members should consider: how valuable is your time? If, like me, you are an artist or writer, do you really need another avenue for incessant rejection?

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There are a few things on THS that I disagree with. There is one thing that I have let my deep feelings be known and now I try to ignore it, ie. the new tiers of membership. At least I can stay on the “classic” tier until they say otherwise.
I do agree there is a definite imbalance between sitters and pet owners. That makes it very competitive and members who have lots of good reviews seem to fare better than new members. There’s a lot of advice on this forum for sitters and pet owners on how to attract attention. Good advice. Fantastic advice. I wish I had had this resource when I was starting.
However, I disagree wholeheartedly about your ageism claim. We fall into that age category as well. We are both very fit and very healthy……reaches over to touch a wooden object……. and find the exact opposite. Pet owners seem to like our mature, no nonsense approach. I admit, we drink in moderation, sundowners are a wonderful invention, but we are highly unlikely to throw parties, bedtime is around 10pm. We don’t take drugs, recreational or prescribed and we do know the responsibilities of owning and running a house. The focus has to be on the animals, the home and the garden and of course security. We are up with the larks and the animals are kept in their normal routine (more or less). Advanced age seems to mean responsible, trustworthy adult.
I actually feel sorry for the responsible youngsters. They very rarely
get the chance to prove how mature and responsible they are.

I hope you do get the chance to sit for one of our wonderful pet owners and you do stick around the forum and give the rest of us your views on the many diverse subjects we all read and write about. Good luck.
Elsie

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@Dogerator I have been a sitter with THS for many years. Until the forum, I was somewhat isolated from other sitters. However, by joining the forum it opened my eyes to many things I did not know about like-minded travellers. In part, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many sitters, like me, are in their golden years. As an aside, I also learned how many were nomadic, and that has fascinated me, even though I don’t wish to follow in their footsteps.

A benefit of this forum is having the support, guidance, and feedback from both sitters and owners, at no cost. That includes the opportunity to ask for constructive feedback on how you can best present yourself in your profile. I would suggest that you consider taking full advantage of the kind folks here by adding a link to your profile in your username. Others who have done this have certainly benefited from it.

I encourage you to take full advantage of the support of this warm and welcome community. I wish you well in your travels and sits.

How to add a link to your profile

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Hello Dogerator,
I would agree with Elsie. We are also over 65, but have been pretty successful getting sits. (currently on number 19). We did all of October with 4 sits in Seattle area and California with only 2 days off to travel. This matters since we sold our house in June 2020 and just have a travel trailer in S. Texas.
We have been selected for sits that have had 12+ applicants. And some we applied for we have not gotten. We even got on one in Spain back in 2017, overlooking the Mediterranean .
All that being said, THS isn’t really an organization, it is a for profit business. And they run it that way. (I agree with you, wish it was an cooperative.)
Pre covid we had hoped to sit full time in U.S., UK and Europe for a couple years. So I started looking at the numbers for available sits and available sitters.
I would only look at sits 3+ days, 9 months out. Along with the number of standard sitters and Verified sitters. Verified being I check all three boxes in the verified section-- Reviews, Verification, Experience.
In 2018 at some point, in the UK, there were 644 homes, 5000 standard sitters and 1600 verified sitters. So 8 standard sitters for every listing, and 2 verified for every listing. I would think some listings went unfilled.
In the U.S. there were 234 listings, 7000 standard and 1700 verified sitters. So 30 standard for every listing and 7 verified for every listing.
I inquired to THS back then about how many listings went unfilled – they “don’t release that information”.

Covid time, couple of days ago. UK had 887 listings, 4300 standard sitters and 2170 verified. So 5 to 1, and 2 to 1. Not far off from 2018.
But the U.S. had 633 listings, 11,100 standard sitters and 4200 verified sitters. So 17 to 1, and 6 to 1.
Seems to say that it is harder to get a sit in the U.S. than in the UK. But also that there are more pets, post covid, more listings and more sitters.
The UK numbers get even more skewed in the summer when it is holiday time there. Lots of opportunity there. We hope to be there this coming July and August.
Keep trying.

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Hello Official Grouch @Dogerator
It’s good that you are able to speak directly, it’s refreshing actually.
I will also speak directly.
People don’t stop going to the gym because it’s overcrowded, that is actually an excuse. People stop going to the gym because they get impatient and aren’t willing to do the work that is required.
It is true that in most “civilized” countries, elders are cast off and the value of their wisdom and experience is often devalued and disregarded. From my perspective as an almost 67 year old woman who does have some mobility issues (egads) I have not seen or felt any barriers, obstacles or feelings of being undesirable in this community of travelers and pet sitters. On the contrary, I have been extremely well received, even admired and complimented for my willingness and ability to not be deterred by societal expectations, stereotyping that says "Gma should stay home’ pfft to that.
I cannot or will not speak to how THS runs their business. It works just great for me. I really have no expectations of them. I am grateful that I have this platform to connect with people who are looking for me without advertising or any antics on social media.
When I first started doing this, I was extremely apprehensive and self conscious of my age. I really didn’t think anyone would want me.
Boy oh boy was I ever wrong. I think people prefer the more mature self confident stable person. This has actually helped me boost my self esteem and made feel that I still have value and can do something worth doing.
I don’t see or feel any competition with any other sitter. Not now or ever. I am unique and I am fully embracing who I am.
So don’t give up, get back in the gym.

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Oh @Amparo, I wish the system allowed me to add both a :heart: and a :clap:, as you deserve both. :heart_eyes:

I am almost leaving 67, and have never been concerned about my age while house sitting, even though I too have some issues, as do most people. My insecurities came from going from sitting as a couple, where we brought different skills and together had so much to offer, to being a solo sitter. However, fortunately I voiced this to one of our homeowners, where we had done repeated sits. She assured me that the main reason they asked us to repeat sits was because of my skills (and my ability to keep my partner in check :rofl:). She encouraged me to have confidence in myself, and that support carried me through that time of uncertainty. Do I select sits differently to when we came with two sets of skills? Definitely. Do I feel valued and appreciated on the solo sits I do? Absolutely. Age and solo status is no handicap for me. :slightly_smiling_face:

Oh, and my guess is that many people leave gyms because they give up on their well-intentioned New Years resolutions by the end of January. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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There are frequent posts from people who are having a hard time finding a sitter. So I think the idea that there are too many sitters and not enough sits is pretty inaccurate. Now, if you are limiting the specs of your sits to ones that are highly competitive, that’s your own choice and certainly not the fault of the site.

As far as the age thing goes, apparently i’m the spring chicken on this thread at only 47, so I can’t comment on that. (Am laughing about this because as a nomad generally I’m 20+ years older than everyone else so it’s kind of nice to be the youngun for once. :wink: )

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We should probably start another thread BUT
THANK YOU for sharing that Francine.
Becoming a pet sitter has had so many numerous benefits on a personal level. The people I have met in this community are extraordinary humans.
I have learned so much from the people I have met from HO’s to perfect strangers on the way. It has been a tremendous boost and has opened my eyes to so many other opportunities.
Keep up the good work Lady, you are special and very much appreciated.

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@Dogerator , I’m with @Snowbird. Do consider sharing the link to your THS profile here by including it in your forum profile. You will get feedback from us on its strong points and suggestions on how to help you better “sell” yourselves. Your ages are actually in your favor (isn’t that nice for a change?) and you obviously love and have experience with animals. You might just need some PR help. There are plenty of HO having a hard time finding sitters. Apply to sits like these. One thing I will mention, the most ordinary-seeming sit in a simple abode in a less than exciting location can end up being a super experience — the chance to step into another life, an experience no run of the mill vacation can provide. Why not apply to sits like these, in places you never considered before? I can think of two such instances, rather humble abodes that were life changers for me.

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Ditto everyone else.

When we’re experiencing stress and rejection (e.g., your writing/artist example) in other parts of our lives, something like not being selected for a house/petsit can feel like salt in the wound. I laughed at myself earlier over a memory of not making “Yelp Elite” about 10 years ago when life was throwing me curveballs. I mean, Yelp…haha.

The usual advice here to new sitters to build up one’s “portfolio” is to choose short, local sits at first, and/or those that may be in less-desirable climates for the time of year.

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At almost 59 I am another junior here. I started sitting in 2017, it did take me a couple of months to get my first sit, but once I got one, they just kept coming.

I did a bit of research and agree that there are a higher number of sitters to Home/pet owners in UK/US, or popular cities, so I decided to be adventurous and SE Asia was an area I found to have fewer sitters listed, but also fewer owners, but once I was actually in the region I have been getting sits no problem.

At present there are only about 7 sits in the whole of SE Asia (excluding Australia) and it is almost impossible to travel between countries, so I took the gamble a few months ago and got a visa to Indonesia. There are only 15 sitters registered in Indonesia, but I don’t actually think some are in the country or region at present. I have been lucky enough to secure 2 sits since I arrived - one 5 weeks, followed by another which I am currently on, which was initially 5 weeks but due to changes in Quarantine has been extended by 2 weeks.

Flexibility is key to getting sits right now. I hope to carry on sitting here, but will not book more than one sit ahead, in case the situation changes again. Owners in Indonesia (mostly Bali) will not book travel too far ahead as rules can change in a day - Quarantine on return, flights cancelled, entry to destination changes etc.

I had also thought when I started that as a single male traveller I might have problems getting sits, but this, as far as I know, has never been a problem.

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This topic speaks to one of the issues I think THS faces–it is by far, a cut above every other site in the support they offer, things like this forum,etc…but at the end of the day, it is still just like the rest of them in that its sole purpose is to connect owners and housesitters, and I think both sides expect too much from them and think they are supposed to do things they don’t.

They are not some sort of agency that directly facilitates matches, the sitters are not any sort of contractors or employees so wouldn’t be vetted to the same degree, the owners aren’t ‘hiring’ them to do anything. They don’t owe anyone anything, they can’t guarantee sitters get assignments, they can’t guarantee owners find a sitter. The background checks, the verifications,etc…are great. If there are problem owners or sitters, they can take them off the site, which is good. But ultimately I don’t see them bearing any responsibility for anything that happens here. Ultimately they are a middle man and nothing more.

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I hear you Dogerator, and strangely enough I feel a similar way as a HO, which seems odd when there are far more sitters than listed sits. I will be honest and say that I’ve been a member of TH for years, and I have not once managed to get a Sitter from this site. They have all come from other sites that are free for me to join. Yet still I remain a member here as from the beginning I liked the concept and what they were trying to do. I love the idea of a genuine fair exchange of energy between two parties. My personal jury is out on whether I like where it appears to be headed (tier membership for one) though I do think developing this active forum is a very good addition.

Reading some of the topics on here in the last few months has made me ‘feel’ that maybe my home is not sleek enough, or airbnb enough, or too cluttered, or homely, or bad because my pets are allowed on the furniture (and horror of horrors for many…allowed on the bed!). Recent discussions on here have made me feel it is a sitters market even though there are a lot more sitters than owners (I do think that this is because a lot of the discussions here have focussed mostly on what HSs need, rather than what HOs need, and has created a perceived imbalance). To be clear, we all have our different preferences, and that is wonderful - I am not criticising the preferences of HS. The sitters with many reviews and much experience know what they want and being honest many of the discussions on here have made me feel that my sit is not desirable, when in reality it probably isn’t that at all and i have given too much weight to some comments that haven’t suited me (human nature?).

I withdrew a sit for this spring as I had no sitters apply who met the criteria (eg, live in the UK or Europe, were not bringing children or their own pets). In reality, I think the main reason this year (and last) is due to covid uncertainties, including not wanting to commit too far ahead of a sit. I also realise a lot of it is also probably to do with the fact I did not have photos of every room in the house, despite having a hugely comprehensively worded listing. There are reasons for this (currently redecorating furiously due to the impact of a huge storm, as well as having a relative stay in the guest bedroom when I was doing my listing), but if sitters want to see those photos before they will even start a discussion, then I lose a lot of options before I start. I also have no reviews due to having no sitters from this site, and many will skip by that. I do feel i am fighting a losing battle on here a lot of the time.

Sometimes I feel it is becoming more about both parties marketing themselves, rather than that fair exchange of energy that comes from building a relationship, communicating and digging deeper. Perhaps that is just the way of the world and I have to accept that, but I know when I have looked at a sitter’s profile and there have been things ‘missing’ (including reviews), I have asked rather than swipe left (or whatever people do on dating apps!). I actively try to see beyond any slick ‘marketing’ and look at the person. After all, I am looking for someone who I will trust my beloved pets and my own home…the most precious things in my life…so the person and their ethos as a whole is crucial, and that comes from a starting point of communication. Not everyone is as tech savvy, or good at communicating everything, or putting across what they need to say.

So, I think I feel a little like you do Dogerator, just for different reasons, whether i am right or not. To answer your direct point, age and maturity would certainly not be a negative for me in a sitter, and in fact would be a reassuring point for many of the reasons that some wonderful experienced sitters and owners here have mentioned. My sit involves donkeys, which means some stable cleaning, and being able to handle them if necessary. I am assuming that anyone applying knows they are fit enough to do this or they wouldn’t bother, and would not assume they weren’t able to do it simply because of age. After all, I am no spring chicken myself and I can do it!

So, I think we have perceptions of why these things happen to us, and they may be correct, they may be way off the mark. In this case, the replies here have very much along the lines of the fact that age is not a barrier, and mostly not seen as a restriction by HO, so I do hope that reassures you there.

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Hi @Dogerator - your post makes interesting reading and I can feel your frustration at not being able to land that elusive first sit.

However, I do feel that your reasoning for it is not completely correct.

Unfortunately you are correct in that there are many ‘isms’ in the world that we all have to face at some point in our lives, ageism being just one. My thoughts on ageism within THS has always been that younger sitters seem to suffer the most. Many times I see home owners citing a preference for ‘mature’ sitters.

When you are starting and initially getting rejected for sits it is quite easy to latch onto a reason and not be able to think beyond that. We are relatively new with THS, after our first batch of rejections I remember having the conversation with my husband that it may be a degree of homophobia. Maybe in some cases it is, but we have to remember that the melting pot of Home hosts is as varied as it is for sitters - We are all different in one form or another.

For us, we eventually got our first sit, which gave us our first review and from then on it got much easier. Here we are now, having been sitters for only 8 months with 13 sits under our belts! This weekend I applied for 3 and was accepted by all 3! How can this be? we are exactly the same people asking ourselves why no body wants us just a few months ago.

The answer is, I joined this group and spent a lot of time reading through discussions picking up really useful tips and advice from experienced sitters. On that advice our application message changed and evolved into what we have now , we were less strict with our criteria for our first few sits - then the all important reviews came and the rest is history.

For you, I would suggest taking a back step, putting the ageism negative thoughts out of your mind and then tweak the way you approach your initial sits. You can be much more selective once a couple of reviews are attached to your profile.

I have found the experienced members of this group to be really kind and helpful - willing to share their knowledge and experience to new sitters freely. If you are really stuck don’t be shy to ask specific questions on here for ideas to help you - Good Luck!

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Well spoken @Colin. You have indeed learnt heaps from the Forum and now offer other members very sound advice.

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Thank you @Boodie for your very honest feelings as a HO. I really felt for you as you’ve thought long and hard about what to write and we, as sitters, need to hear these types of comments from HO. I’m so pleased you have hung in there with THS. I first joined as an owner, and like you, I did not get any applications to look after my elderly cat but I did through another site that was free. And I was very happy with that sitter. However, when I had to have my cat put to sleep, I felt becoming a sitter on THS was what I wanted to do and also because it offered worldwide sits where I love to travel. Now that you have opened up to your fellow Forum members, I hope you’ll find someone really wanting to care for your donkeys so you can enjoy a break.

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Hi @Boodie. I appreciate your detailed explanation of your experience. Like most active forum members, I have learned that sitters and homeowners are as varied as the sits. Yes, there are sitters who are looking for certain ‘perks/features’ of a home, and perhaps for things they don’t have in theirs. However, I’ve also read here of sitters who prefer a less than pristine home, as they feel they couldn’t relax properly in one that looks like it came out of a magazine. We are all different.

I think this all comes down to communication. Hence the reason both sitter and homeowner ‘market’ their skills or setting. Provided it’s the truth, then details are always helpful in communication. As for your interior photos, I think it’s best that you show in your listing why you don’t include them, and I’ve seen listings written that way, or at times offering to send photos separately to prospective sitters. A picture is still worth a 1000 words, and a ‘hugely comprehensively worded listing’ is no substitute for clear photos. As for your preference of this site over others, perhaps it’s because of the degree of extensive information provided; I know it is for me. It allows me to make a well-informed decision.

I too would like to see a more balanced input from sitters and homeowners on the forum, but participation is decided by each member/visitor. I think most sitters appreciate hearing the owner’s perspective too.

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As you say, “sitters and homeowners are as varied as the sit”. A picture may be worth a 1000 words for some people, but for me the words are just as important, and I would always look at a listing as a whole… A lack of pictures would not stop me from reading those words. but we are all different, and I have learned that the full listings do not always get looked at and i can plan accordingly in future . To be clear, I did have quite a few interior pictures on my listing which would certainly give an overview of the vibe of my house, and the style (including the sitter’s bathroom), and also mentioned that other photos would be sent on request (so we are in tune there!) - but sometimes people do not read that far. If I list again, there should be more pictures by then. You’re right, one thing I really like about the site is the detail in the descriptions (but for me it can be words as well as pictures).

I think one of my points was simply that on a site like this, which is so much about a genuine desire that each party gives something to the other, each of us can maybe make allowances for the differences of the other, and to be tolerant of the other ways that people do things or see things, and not dismiss them out of hand. There are often reasons behind things, or people just don’t realise what they are ‘supposed’ to do. Of course, I understand that people are busy, and that maybe they don’t have the time or indeed need to. Perhaps i am reading far too much into it, and i will attract those who suit me, and vice versa.

Re the balance of input…yes, I agree, and so here I am! However, the recent questions in the forum asking for input and ideas to improve the process appear to focus on what the sitter would like to see - a welcome guide or word doc, what info about the pets, what amenities they would like to have or see listed. i was under the impression they were a ‘company’ thing, but perhaps they are just discussions amongst sitters, so that is my mistake.

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Won’t have time to properly respond for at least a few days – perhaps an essential problem for me with THS. But I will get back to all of you. Just wanted to say, for now, Boodie, that pets on the couch and bed suit us perfectly. I suspect your frustration has primarily to do with location, location, location. We happen to love your area, but won’t be there again for years.

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Did I read correctly from your previous post that you had a relative staying in the guest bedroom who would be present during the sit?