HS, please stop taking chances with other people's pets

Hey all,

I don’t really want advice…just wanted space to chat and share some frustration in a space of people who’ve potentially been in a similar place to me. I’m gonna make adjustments moving forward and take the learnings. Yep, I know this may come across as complaining, I’m just p’ed off!

We’ve had a year full of quite frankly, shocking sitters. I work pretty hard to do my due diligence and be as open/upfront and transparent as possible when selecting sitters. Even with all the care, these have been the results of our past three sits.

  1. Sitter would take an average of 18-24 hours to respond to messages and it took us escalating to TH before they would even send us one-off what could only be described as ‘proof of life’ images of our dog.

  2. We loved them, our dog loved, them. But they put our dog at risk by breaking the number one rule, which was do not let our dog off lead in our absence even in our garden. We live next to three barrier-aggressive dogs (pack mentality kicks in fast and their guardians allow it). The dogs next-door ended up breaking the shared fence and our dog got close enough to them on a SECOND occasion of being let off lead (even after we reminded the sitter not to do so especially given there was now a massive hole in the fence) to hospitalise him to the point of requiring stitches and sedation. This incident has devastated the progress we made with our training and our dog is now terrified to enter our own garden, which we have no choice but to walk through every time we leave the house.

  3. Agreed to a sit with a HS who was more “mature” in age after being reassured that they were an ex-body builder and able-bodied. Upon arrival day one, they then informed us that they were losing eyesight in one eye and recovering from a broken wrist and also had difficulty with stairs and lifting their own luggage/opening cabinets. They then expressed a dislike for the tools our dog is comfortable with (we walk him in a slip lead…he’s not a puller, but as anyone with a reactive or even just a powerful/excitable dog knows, even if your dog is amazing 95% of the time, any animal that is afraid or over threshold will find strength they didn’t know they had in that situation and you need to be ready). They were very resistant to any feedback given, struggled/didn’t seem to have a desire to implement instructions and guidance provided and, tbh, I feel like they did not fully disclose their current ability because they wanted to stay in our location…we canceled the sit on orientation day and rearranged our plans.

There are several things that have bothered me about these situations.

  • I know my dog; we have spent thousands of hours training together. If I tell you to do something, don’t argue with me about it and follow the instructions you’ve been given. No more, no less!
  • Do not maximise or augment your capability just because you like our city or the look of our home, especially when we explicitly ask you if you’ll be strong enough to handle XYZ…if you are recovering from a broken wrist, I’m not sure in what world it would make sense to apply for a sit with an active/athletic bully breed who, while highly-trained, explicitly states requires a confident and capable handler.
  • If I give you feedback or have expressed discomfort with comms or handling, take the feedback for gawd’s sake.

I think the thing that makes this so incredibly frustrating is I honestly feel we go above and beyond to set our sitters up for success…:

  • HS receive a dog user guide, a dog care guide, a house guide WELL ahead of time so that if anything doesn’t work for HS, they can move accordingly.
  • We spend time walking HS through EVERYTHING…the house, our dog’s routine, our expectations, etc.
  • We make sure HS know that at ANY point in time, it’s ok to say no and walk away from the sit during the vetting process (no judgement).
  • We make sure HS are left with a stocked home and have access to as many resources as possible before going, which includes driving them where they need to before we leave during orientation…

When HS don’t listen, we end up paying but even worse, our DOG ends up suffering.

Re: no. 1…we just had to stick it out and dealt with the fact that we wouldn’t have regular access to our dog while gone.

Re: no 2. We ended up having to pay for extensive vet bills, now have a soured relationship with our neighbours and have to go back to the beginning to build our dog’s confidence back up

Re: no. 3. I feel we were very gracious as we still allowed the sitter to stay at our place for the remainder of the sit and made alternative arrangements for our dog.

…As someone who is both an HS/HO…please can we do better than this? PLEASE.

I get that sometimes you just have a bad run, but golly, what a tough year…

There have been a few posts here that have expressed about level of vetting…if there was a one-off of a bad experience, I could understand but a year of bad sits, each one with a different problem,…my list of explicit questions that I will be asking HS moving forward is going to be very targeted and I’ll be honest, I no longer care if I end up stating what seems like the obvious to them because at this point, we have genuinely been let down repeatedly.

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Oh my…
I can completely understand your frustration.
My thoughts on this are, maybe if you found an able sitter, not necessarily from THS but maybe from a platform more local, who would do repeat sits, you wouldn’t have to rely on new people all the time :woman_shrugging:

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We’re actually planning to do exactly this and find some dedicated sitters locally. I love what the platform stands for but the quality of HS has been so inconsistent that I’m now a bit on the fence. :+1:t4:

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Hi @bakindoki, do you point out all these things ( = requirements) in your listing? That way you can be more assured to get sitters who know what they’re up to. There’s many wonderful sitters on this site who respond promptly, do not let a dog off lead if it’s not supposed to, etc.

At the same time, when a sit has been agreed, I would not expect an HO to cancel the sit on the day I arrive at their house, as that would leave me in quite a predicament since I will have taken a plane or train to arrive at the sit.

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Your experiences do sound really horrible and I don’t know what to say. Only that there seems to be a steady stream of very unhappy homeowners these past months for some reason. I have my suspicions but best not to voice them. I believe the many changes to the application process, the advertising, the push for new members at whatever cost, has come at a price. Unfortunately you may have paid that price.

So sorry to hear about your dog and it’s totally fine to let off steam on here, I am sure you have the total support from all members. :earth_asia::heartpulse:

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Agree with @ziggy that there’s indeed too many stories past months of HOs that have encountered less-than-responsible sitters. I hope it’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it is concerning to see so many stories pop up lately - in combination with the THS push to get more sitters to join the site with ads that show images and use language that may attract the wrong type of candidates.

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yep, called out explicitly and very clearly (I don’t mess about lol). Here is an excerpt just to provide an example from the responsibilities section:

*For Sensi: *
*- FEED him *
*- REINFORCE TRAINING structures we already have in place and be willing to do an orientation before the actual handover (we build in a couple overlap days at the start of the sit where we’re all home) *
*- TWO GOOD WALKS a day *
*- CUDDLE time *
*- He CAN BE LEFT ALONE for up to 5 hours *
*- You MUST BE CONFIDENT IN HANDLING a dog-reactive dog and advocate for him *
*- ALWAYS KEEP HIM ON LEAD/LINE when you leave the house…THIS INCLUDES THE GARDEN *
*- Send updates, pictures/videos DAILY-ish…the more the merrier! *

*For the HOME: *
*- We have a few indoor plants and they may need watering/care *
*- Collect/hand over mail, let in service people, etc. *
- We are neat and tidy so we ask that you return the space in the condition you found it.

Re: the second part of your message, If you falsely represent your capabilities to the point where the HO is uncomfortable leaving their dog with you, as an HO, I would not leave my dog with you just because it would “put you in a difficult situation”. You’ll also notice that, again, we still extended hospitality to the HO and allowed them to remain in our home for the remainder of the sit term because we were able to do so in this situation. If that were not the case, not really sure what to say other than this is exactly why it’s so important to make sure you’re honest with yourself and others about your abilities.

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I am so sorry about these experiences, and particularly for the injuries (physical and other) to your dog.

I just cannot imagine the mindset of deliberately choosing to care for an animal that one is not physically capable of managing. I mean, I also can’t imagine disregarding a HO’s instructions on pet care, particularly around safety of the animal, or refusing to do the #1 simplest thing in the world (send pictures), but surely no vacation destination is worth potential injury to the sitter if they can’t even lift their own luggage? I used to have a 70-lb dog who walked at an annoyingly leisurely stroll 95% of the time and I know about that sudden burst of strength and speed.

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ALL of this. like I really can’t lol

I’m so sorry that this happened to you. It was incredibly gracious of you to allow the sitter who completely misrepresented himself to still stay in your home.

I noticed that you did not review any of your last three sitters. Do you plan to?

Tbh, I’ve been waiting to write reviews for them until I can do so without coming from a place of pure anger…as you can see, I still haven’t gotten there yet :joy::joy::joy:

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Honest Feedback of Sitters is needed to protect future Home Owners.

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I agree. If you’re angry, you have a right to be. Your dog has suffered and your relationship with your neighbors has suffered. The only caveat I’d make is that you must share this with the sitter as well, before you post it.

I can understand that. Just don’t wait too long because as soon as they flip the switch on the new review system you won’t be able to review them anymore and potential HOs need to know what your experience was.

Honestly, the above (with info about the harm that came to your dog, the cost and training setbacks that followed) seems like a pretty even keeled review right there.

I’m so sorry to hear this @bakindoki - I too have noticed a decline in quality this year just by the applications I’ve received. I do notice that sitters don’t specifically follow instructions either, or tell you things like " we won’t be away for more than 5 hrs" without understanding that in a big city there’s traffic and when you’re out and about exploring is very easy to lose track of time. I recently declined someone who originally insisted they would be back within 5 hours while attending a wedding, and just didn’t seem realistic to me, plus personally if I was attending a friend’s wedding I would want some flexibility.

I also notice they don’t tend to read the guide either. I always worry now when a sitter doesn’t ask any questions. The best sitters I’ve had have always asked at least one or two questions on it, either before or the day they arrive.

Another thing about allowing dogs off the lead/leash. In Chicago, it is illegal to walk your dogs or let your dogs off lead in public areas (streets and parks) unless you’re in a gated dog park and even then, there’s a T&C that you’re putting your dog at risk because of potential reactive dogs like the one you’ve described in your OP. We recently implemented no dogs off lead/leash in our building’s HOA as well, because we had renters who left their reactive dog run lose around the yard and tried to attack the lower level neighbors. I make it very clear in my guide about this and remind them in person not to let my dog run around lose in the yard.

Ultimately, I think HS need to understand that HO ultimately just want what’s best for their pets. I notice in this forum how people can get judgemental about our rules and requirements, but as you mention, we know our dogs better and understand their needs, their quirks and what can potentially traumatize them or make them more anxious. If we make this very clear in our listing and guide, then it’s not on us for other than being better at vetting sitters - which has become quite the task nowadays.

We’re also considering hiring our local walker/sitter to stay with our dog moving forward.

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I hear you loud and clear. Our dog is a licensed and certified therapy dog who has regular clientele. She and I have spent hundreds of hours in training and handling and she is impeccable while working. But that does not change the fact that she is still a dog and may or may not react differently with a different handler who does not know her. We have strict rules because of this. She also has a bully full contact play style and, while she means no harm, a strange dog may not know this and then we have a potential problem. It is always better to err on the side of safety!

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Just a bit confused as, when I click on your profile linked here, you come up as a couple of Housesitters from Budapest with one review

We are HO & HS…our HS profile is just what I’ve linked to our forum account.

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Hi @bakindoki
So sorry to hear of your experiences. I too do wonder if THS is pushing for numbers at the risk of quality.
I’ve heard some bad stories from HO’s this year including a previous sitter running up a 200 euro’s phone bill on a HO landline and a sitter suddenly demanding 300 euro’s for a sit after confirming the sit. Advised both HO’s to report said sitters to THS.
I do hope your dog is ok.

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