Reciprocation and mutual respect

I have been with Trusted HouseSitters for over 4 years now and have enjoyed house sits to break up retirement by meeting new people and their pets. Having undertaken almost 40 sits in this time, I feel reasonably confident in making a few observations since we moved into a strange world where a coronavirus has turned our lives upside down.
Trusted HouseSitters have not given any reduced/discounted subscription fees to pet sitters (or, I guess home owners) and have recently put up their subscription fees. Once £89 per annum I will need to renew my next subscription at £129. This is a huge increase with seemingly little additional benefit.
Post lockdown, there were tens of applications for UK sits. Presumably, a lot of the UK public signed up for THS for a cheap staycation holiday, given that UK rentals and hotel prices were greatly inflated. I am pleased to see that this hiatus has subsided, at least for the time being.
It may be a symptom of ageing but I feel that there is a change in attitude from some homeowners since post lockdown. I get the feeling that I am being treated as a “menial” and being done a favour doing some sits. It is a subtle change but, nonetheless, evident. It is extremely hard work pet sitting, if you do it well. It is not putting your feet up and having a whale of a time but the responsibility that comes with looking after the things most precious to the homeowners: their home and their pets. There really is nothing in it for the sitters, especially on sits local to them, except to do a kindness for the homeowner. I think in the homeowner notes there should be a little paragraph about a welcome package for house sitter and some niceties that are the foundation of a polite society. I have been vastly out of pocket paying for petrol, food, a leaving gesture and card for homeowners …
OMG, this is turning into a bit of a rant so I will end here by asking “is it too much to expect a little mutual respect” from homeowners? After all, we are doing them a massive favour. When working, I used to pay the equivalent of another holiday for an agency to look after my cats and home and I always brought them back a little something from my holiday by way of a thank you. It should not be considered job done by the homeowner to pay a subscription and expect their part of the arrangement done or is it?

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Hi @catmum, I joined THS in 2017 so probably around the same time as you. I have also done around 40 sits, 30 with THS

As I understand it, if your membership is on auto-renew you will still pay the same, I believe that it is being called “classic” membership. It is no longer available to new members, but existing members can stay on the same level/price. (89)

I also believe that THS had to reduce staff by around half during the early months of covid, and since subscriptions are its only income, could not reduce or pause membership – the company was probably close to going under at one point.

I agree that once restrictions were lifted, the number of sitters and HO increased, and there was a lot of competition for sits during this summer, so a lot of first-time owners were learning the ropes.

As an experienced sitter I have been able to help and guide new HO through the system, and with the help of this forum have been able to pass on my experience to many new sitters and HO.

I don’t expect any kind of welcome pack/gift pack from a HO. To be able to spend time with pets in a different environment, even if it is just the next town or city, is what it is all about.

To say you are vastly out of pocket is just not true – you would always have to pay for food, petrol but not accommodation. How many nights have you spent sitting over your 40 sits? An average hotel in the UK can be £50 or £60 a night – how much have you saved? Even 2 nights house sitting covers your subscription.

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As soon as money is involved, the relationship becomes different.

I’m not expecting any tip, the sharing of my expenses when I’m a sitter.
All owners have been kind, offering me a meal, a drink if they were leaving quickly after my arrival. I never felt I was an employee.

i feel respect for "my " sitters, I hope it was mutual, I feel respect for the owners,
I’m the one who offer gifts when I welcome a sitter or/and on my return but also to the owners to thank them for their hospitality (although some sitters would never behave like that, we are quite many to do so. Watch the thread “gifts”)

For sure a sitter helps an owner. But it’s a win win deal. The owner offers a roof !

The “work” may be only hard when there are many animals, a big estate to mow, to water, I never apply for such sits. The work to be done in my home is quite light. Walking a dog is a pleasure, I hope. Not a drudgery !

And the “work” (I prefer the word “responsability”) I had to do was not more than 2 hours a day. I don’t call that “very hard”.
I enjoyed so much where I sat I was highly rewarded (location, pets, owners)

When you read on this forum some posts, it’s obvious people who want to sit hope to do tourism too.
Nobody is a slave.

The change in owners with the pandemic may be they prefer to find locals. Local sits may be very interesting too. For the sitters who have no home, it’s much nicer (and much more economic) than staying in an hotel, don’t you think ?

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Hi Petermac,
Thank you for replying to my first post on the THS Forum and for your positive spin as a frequent user of the Forum.
Clearly, we have different perspectives and this is what makes this Forum all the more interesting. Perhaps you consider my expectations a little unrealistic in the world we live in and it is healthy to have a difference of opinion.
I didn’t know about auto-renew for existing members which makes my subscription more do-able next year.
I have had some of the most wonderful experiences pet sitting but some that have made me wonder why I am doing this, feeling totally used, unappreciated and somewhat depressed on leaving them. I have a beautiful home and beautiful pets of my own so why would I give all of this up to be treated like a free commodity? Rhetorical question.

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Hi @Catmum, I didn’t realise it was your 1st post! Welcome to the Forum…
If you check your membership details on the main THS site it should show your renewal date and cost. I will post a screen print of mine below.
Yes we all have slightly different views and expectations from Pet/house sitting and I also have had one or two not so good experiences, but thankfully the good and very good ones well outdo them.

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Thank you Petermac, this is very helpful and much appreciated.

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I think times always change and people do as well, which doesn’t mean that everybody behaves the same.
People’s expectations may differ a lot and I think to find out what kind of person the other party is, can be found out by how they react to an application, how they write back and forth, which questions they ask and how they talk to you on a video chat. So basically it’s all about communication.

I’ve just had a sitter applying to my listing, who obviously hadn’t read a word of my (I know, lengthy) listing, where I state that I only accept people currently being in Europe and nobody who has to come here from another continent. She never even mentioned my cats she wanted to take care of and in her application as well as in her profile she only writes about traveling the world…it was a BIG NO fo me!

@dusenzofe,

It’s a shame that one of the sitters who recently applied hadn’t bothered to read your entire listing.

I’ve noticed a clever trick used by a couple of HOs to check if applicants have read their entire listing. They embed a word in the body of the listing and specifically instruct applicants to mention that word in their application. For example, one HO instructed applicants to mention the word “lemon” in their application. Another HO wrote that applicants should include the location of where the HO was going on their vacation. I’m assuming that it’s a quick way to weed out the readers from the non-readers.

It reminds me of the teacher who instructed his students to first read all of the instructions included in the homework assignment. The last instruction on the second page said that the students didn’t have to do any of the assignment. All of the students did the assignment because they didn’t follow their teacher’s initial instruction to read all of the instructions before starting the assignment.

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:rofl::rofl::rofl: I will keep the „lemon“ in mind. Great idea!

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Hi @Catmum welcome to our community forum I can see you are having great conversations with other members already, the real objective of the forum, helping members connect.

Thank you @Petermac for your eloquent explanation of the real difficulties which TrustedHousesitters experienced when COVID took over the world, we were very close to closure but our amazing community helped us survive and while we coud not respond to that support in a financial way we did continue to keep the website active and work on major (and minor) improvements to benefit all of our members.

Please enjoy the conversations, connecting with other members and we sincerely hope you will stay in our community, it is like no other and you are a part of that.

Thank you again.

Angela and the Team

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We have such respect for the sitters who come to our home to watch our baby…and like you, we want respect. 99.9% of our sitters have been that way. Only a couple have not met expectations…whether not following our very simple, easy, directions for taking care of our baby, to the way we returned home to a mess. Very rare this happens, but trust me, the respect must always go both ways.

We are each doing each other a favor by being a member of this great group…we get someone watching and caring for our baby…sitters get the opportunity to see new places, without the cost of housing…

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I believe mutuality is the foundation of any social relationship. It is about understanding the other person and their needs and desires. It isn’t just about respect but respect is part of it.

As a home owner with two pets who are entrusted to someone else for a week or more at a time, I like to know something more than the reviews and transactional part of the “deal”. I like to understand what motivates someone to care for my pets. If that isn’t the main reason they’re doing it, I don’t choose them.

We welcome them when they arrive and we thank them when they leave. That’s courtesy. We’ve had a few do repeat sits.

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I have been with TH for a number of years. I can honestly say that the homeowners I have sat for have been nothing but kind and generous. I have had many who have taken me out for dinner or fixed a great meal upon arrival. To say “there is nothing in it for the sitters” is just not true. These sits benefit both parties. The owners get to leave knowing their home and pets are in good hands. I get to meet lovely people, spend time with great pets, site see in a new area and enjoy very nice homes. Not once have I felt like a “menial”. There has also never been an expectation for them to supply me with anything. My paying for my own petrol and food goes without saying. This has, and will continue to be, my responsibility. The kindness and respect I have been shown has been phenomenal. Perhaps the attitude which is in need of adjustment is not the homeowners.

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Thank you @JMarie for sharing your personal experiences.

With my “old” as in very experienced, sitter’s hat on I couldn’t agree more. We have met the most generous, kind and caring people who have been so very grateful for the love and care we have given to their beloved furry family members, many we have returned to time and time again.

I’ve also been on the other side of our win win win as an owner and had amazing sitters who not only looked after my home with the utmost care, my sits were always long term (no pet care) but went above and beyond in every way.

We have made lifelong friends, which doesn’t happen every time of course but equally we have never been made to feel that we were not respected or appreciated. I always say that we get back far more than we ever give …

TrustedHousesitters is a very special community brought together by a love of and for animals, it may not always be a perfect one but by working together and supporting one another we can make it the best experience possible for all of our members.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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So glad I read this post as I didn’t know about the auto renew. Thankfully I’m already on it :grinning:
I have never felt menial when doing a Petsit thank goodness. The homeowners all be it for 1 or 2 have always been most appreciative. I’ve recently completed a sit for a HO new to THS who wanted to meet me before the. The sit was only an hour away so we agreed. The HO was friendly & the dog was elderly & I fell in love with her immediately & wanted to take care of her even though we were not offered a drink & it was a warm day.
Any other time this would of put me off but the dog :dog: was so endearing I had to go back to do the sit.
Same thing happened on the day of the sit we wasn’t offered a drink ( something I automatically do when someone enters my home) however we were told to help ourselves to anything in the fridge & cupboards. We had use of the outdoor hot tub & the sit was a 20 minute walk to the beach :beach_umbrella: we also had use of their NT card & we had a wonderful stay in a beautiful home :house_with_garden: with an adorable dog for company.
So don’t let the small things put you off a sit.
First thing I did when the HO left was to check the kettle to make sure it worked lol :joy:

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That made me laugh @Crazydoglady checking the kettle.
We travelled from the UK to New Zealand, the owners were late picking us up from the airport. We were shown to our room, I had to ask for a glass of water, loo paper and clothes hangers. They had run all sorts of other stuff down, e.g, laundry liquid, so we had to replace it. Apart from that we had a wonderful time !

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Nice to see someone has the same sense of humour as me :grinning:
Having a wonderful time is what it’s all about. Glad you enjoyed your sit

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Sorry to hear you’ve had some negative experiences. We’ve done 34 sits in the past 2 years and have felt that most householders do value what we do. They often leave a bottle of wine or some edibles which we appreciate, but don’t expect. We might leave them some flowers (usually from their gardens) but don’t feel any need to do more. For us it’s a great saving as we are happily living on our modest pensions with almost no bills.
I haven’t noticed any change in householders attitudes before and after the Dread Virus. Even if you have a sample of ten post it is still very easy to get an impression of a change from random differences.

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Hi, I’ve both done a sit (which I loved) but mainly have offered sits. I feel it is a mutual value exchange - people get to stay in a house for free (which is a considerable benefit), and I get my house and cat looked after (which is also a considerable benefit!). Mostly it’s been a (very) good exchange and we have certainly enjoyed meeting people. Sometimes I leave a welcome bottle of wine (or gin once!), other times I don’t. I love a thank you card when I return. Funnily enough, my cat was over grooming herself when we last came back and we wondered if having different cat sitters was such a good idea, and that maybe we should return to the daily cat sitter we used to use more frequently! I’m sure you have great experience from your many sits, so maybe the trick is to really understand what you want out of the sit (e.g. cat versus dogs, no garden) so that you get to really enjoy yourself too! At the end of the day - happy sitter, happier animals in all likelihood! Hope your next sit is great.

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I have been with THS for over 5 years and have done over 50 sits, mainly non-local but also a fair few within an hour to an hour and a half from my home, most of which have become regular. Just today I returned from a new sit an hour away. Even though it was in a town that I had previously visited, there were still so many opportunities to see new places in the area. I certainly can’t agree with the sentiment that ‘there really is nothing in it for the sitters’. I had a ‘cat fix’ with an adorable cat, I got to visit new places and I have made new friends.
I think, if you feel that there is nothing in it for you, you shouldn’t be doing the sit. I am doing the homeowners a massive favour by looking after their cat(s) but, equally, they are doing me a massive favour by letting me stay in their house and giving me the opportunity to see new places and experience new things.
I don’t expect to get a ‘welcome package’ from the homeowner. I have had bottles of wine, chocs, food in the fridge, etc. in the past and I consider this to be a very nice extra, but certainly not a necessity. After all, I am getting a break away from home and not having to pay for a hotel. A ‘thank you’ is enough! I pay for petrol because I want to go to this place, I pay for food because I would anyway if I were at home, I leave a bunch of flowers or something else because I am grateful to have stayed in their house and used their utilities. This is what it’s about for me - and I am ageing with my 70th birthday coming up in a couple of months.

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