Newbie in Kenya

Hello to everyone! It’s great to be here among you.

A beginner house sitter, I’m working my way slowly through the Trusted Housesitters site and instructions, seeking local sits (or maybe as far away as South Africa) until I gain some actual experience and the courage to travel further abroad.

Based in Nairobi, I would be willing to go up- or down-country (even to Uganda and/or Tanzania) to find house/pet sitting opportunities. Being a resident of Kenya for more than 32 years and having spent most of that time pretty far upcountry, I’ve had a wide variety of animal experiences that have prepared me for some special and unusual situations. Check out my profile if you want to know more.

Otherwise, I’m grateful to be part of this group, and I hope to make a fair contribution to the discussions that take place here. Thank you all for making me feel welcome and supported!

Dena

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Hello @Ledadane and welcome to both TrustedHousesitters and our community forum. It sounds like you are finding lots to read on the site and here in the forum to help you get started. There’s a fabulous blog too which has lots of helpful tips as well as travel and pet info to keep you informed. Any questions don’t hesitate to ask the group!

For some extra exposure, you can also add a link to your profile here in the forum so that people can see your main THS profile … here are the instructions for that.

What a place to be based! We did a house sit in Botswana that was absolutely amazing. Africa is like a whole different world for me, and I can only imagine the experiences you’ve had! We had hippos at the end of the garden, and elephants walking along the road. Over 32 years you must have some awesome stories - please do feel free to share in our travel or other categories - we’d love to hear more about your lifestyle!

In the meantime I’m sure you’ll make some great connections and new friends here in our pet loving family!

Happy weekend from Vanessa and the forum team!

p.s. What wild animal experience is top of your favourites?

Hi @Ledadane a warm welcome form me also and I can only echo @Vanessa-ForumCMgr words and please share some images that “say a thousand words”

We look forward to sharing in this next chapter in your life adventures.

Hi @Ledadane as I echo all the other welcomes from Forum Team Members. Can I just say I absolutely love all your pics…the dalmations are adorable but that baby Hippo…how absolutely precious! Looks like you have already had such a fulfilling life, but TrustedHousesitters is going to bring you even more joy and fulfillment as you begin this journey of helping out others who love their pets so very much and want only the best for them.

I can’t wait to see postings of all your adventures as I have never seen that part of the World. I will live vicariously through all your pictures!

Hi, Debbie,

Thanks for the welcome and for the compliments on my photos.

That baby hippo was only with us for about a week. We took him to a safe place in Kenya where other carers could look after him, and it’s a good thing we did that. It turned out that his tummy had been punctured in two places by his mama’s tusks when she threw him away. The wounds had closed, and we had no idea they were infected, so his new carers were able to save his life.

When environmental conditions are tough, hippos reject newborn calves. If she doesn’t have to feed a “toto,” a mama can survive drought conditions and breed again later. It sounds harsh, but it’s nature’s way.

Sometimes our lives are harsh, too. My life partner fell ill in 2010, and over the years that followed, I had more and more to give up my career as a traveling teacher. As waters rose in the Great Rift Valley, we lost our home. In the end, I lost my partner last year. Joining THS is a good sign that I’m recovering from all that and that I’m ready for new, exciting undertakings, and house sitting is tops on my list.

Unable to act sooner, and still unable to move about as freely as I might like (I, too, have pets!), I’ve been watching THS for at least the last year. Now, I believe, it’s time for me to move forward and explore the opportunities that clearly await me.

I appreciate very much the support that THS gives to its members, and I hope to benefit from this Community as well. Thank you all so much!!

Dena

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Hello, Angela,

And thanks for your welcoming remarks, too!

As for images–well, I’ve posted a few on my profile. I’m fighting with Apple Photos at the mo, but I’ll find and post some other pix soon–I promise!

It’s a pleasure to be here with all the THS sitters and house/pet owners.

Dena

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Thank you, Vanessa!

There’s plenty of information on THS to help newbies like me settle in quickly and comfortably. I’m also watching YouTube videos (I have a few there myself) about how to become a house sitter, and there are many good ones out there. I have yet to spend any quality time with the THS blog, but rest assured that I will do so soon!

I’m struggling a bit to add a link to my profile, but don’t worry–I’m pretty clued up with computers, and I’m sure I’ll manage it.

Yes, indeed–Kenya is an amazing country. It’s beautiful and wild and never still. Thanks for the invitation to share experiences. You asked what wild animal experience is top of my favourites. It’s this one:

Early one morning, I got up, went to the kitchen where the dogs slept, and opened the door to let them go out. I followed them out of the house and down the steps to the roundabout roughly 30 feet down. After a while, I turned to go back to the kitchen. With eyes focused on the rough stone steps I was climbing, I was about half-way back when I lifted my eyes and looked straight into the watchful and wary eyes of a full-grown hippo standing above me and about 20 feet away. The terrifying part was that I was stupidly between the hippo and the nearby lake, and a first rule of bushcraft in Africa is to never put yourself between a hippo and a nearby body of water.

Fortunately, I did not panic and did not scream. No one could have reached me in time to help, and had they tried, the situation would have rapidly deteriorated.

Instead, I quietly dropped my eyes, reached down to guide my dog safely up the steps, and turned away from the hippo as I continued walking upwards. Safely back in the kitchen with the dogs and the door closed behind us, I began first to tremble and then to cry. As I calmed down, I realized what an amazing encounter that had been. Each of us, human and wild animal, had looked deeply into the other’s eyes, sized each other up, and decided we were, neither of us, a threat to the other. Life moved forward as expected, but I carry with me to this day that eerie sensation of direct and powerful communication with another species.

I’m glad, Vanessa, that you were able to spend some time in Botswana and to gain a better understanding of Africa. It truly is a world apart from modern urban existence.

Thanks for making me feel welcome to THS!

Dena

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Hello and welcome!
I love Kenya. It’s my second home. I’m actually in Nairobi right now and have a THS sitter at my home in the U.K. while I work in Kibera.
I hope you have a great experience with THS.

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Hi Dena and thank you for sharing what must have been a terrifying moment. I remember being quite surprised to hear that more people are attached by hippos than any other animal. Living among wild animals certainly instills a very different sense of one’s own place in the world I feel, and I am sure I benefitted from that experience. It made me more still, more respectful of nature, and more at one with the world. Just having to think twice before leaving the house at night, as you didn’t know what might be watching you stills the mind and the body. I really feel I understand exactly what you described. We hope to return one day, and would love to spend some time in Namibia. Enjoy the forum and I look forward to following your journey!

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There’s a sit in Dakar :slight_smile:

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Thanks, Liz—but I’m already booked for those dates!

Kenya and surrounding countries are high on my bucket list of sits. So maybe after I manage to retire in the next couple years, maybe you will be a HO I get to sit for. Glad to have you here on THS.

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Thanks, @JEHFromVA. You give me a chance to talk here about an important factor when seeking sits in some countries.

Here in Kenya, for example, people wealthy enough to own and care about pets may also have permanent, sometimes even resident, househelp. They trust their full-time, or even part-time, employees to look after their furbabies. That means the demand for house sitters is relatively low compared with Australia, North America, and Europe.

In general, however, attitudes towards domestic animals are rather careless. There are many stray dogs and cats, so if one dies, another soon takes its place, and “life is cheap.” Many locals, as opposed to expats, usually do not understand any animal being pedigreed and of great monetary value. Until a couple of years ago, street people often sold puppies, kittens, rabbits, and the like on the streets of Nairobi, so they were only valued for the immediate cash payments they generated.

Calling in a vet is not a decision for which many household staff people would likely take responsibility–this for fear of making a mistake that might cost them their job! Asking staff to make such choices puts them in a very difficult position–they can get sacked for failing to call a vet when necessary as well as for calling one when it’s not an emergency–Catch-22!

I suspect that more pet-owners in such countries should bring in a THS, but they also would worry that the sitter might steal household goods from them or otherwise abuse the privileges of house/pet sitting. It will take time for the good name of THS to become a byword in such households. That makes it incumbent upon each of us to do the best job we can, and always to be truthful of our HOs and respectful of their property and their privacy. As we build THS’ reputation, so also do we build our own!

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Hi @Ledadane thank you for your knowledgable insights and as someone who lived in N. Africa & India and other similar countries for many years I can attest to having experienced identical circumstances.

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The ex-pat community would be the most likely source of sits in Africa and every once in a while one shows up on THS. One can always hope to hit just right on one of the few available.