Before you think I am too crazy I have personally owned nine dogs (in 60 years), but the others we have pet sat (through house sitting) and fostered. They all play an important role in my current stage of life.
What do you do when a 125 lbs. dog (Moses, a Great Pyrenees) is laying across the doorway of the bathroom—well you either go find another bathroom or you just don’t care about closing the door! What do you do when a head as large as a basketball comes over and starts nudging you to wake up in the morning—NO MATTER what time it is? (We won’t name, names—well maybe this one time—Apollo!) You get up of course. Dogs and my life will always be intermingled.
Here are a couple of short tales that will always make me love my family furry or not.
We did take a break from having a dog as part of the family at one time, but I kept thinking about getting a dog. On my birthday, one year, my husband gave me the perfect gift—a dog collar and leash. He didn’t go pick out a dog on his own, or get a puppy or..he was just saying if you want a dog let’s start looking. It actually took a couple of months before we started visiting animal shelters.
Finally one Saturday I said let’s go. When we arrived at a large, busy animal shelter, my husband, kids, and I actually split up to wander around. Stopping at each cage (sad face), looking and looking. Then I heard my husband holler he had “found the one.” It was a beautiful Border Collie. We took him for a walk, talked to him for a while, and thought we should sleep on it, as it was a big decision.
As soon as we got home (30 minutes away), I was ready to go back and get him. We went right back and adopted “Tacoma.” As we were completing the paperwork not one but two other families came in and were also ready to adopt Tacoma. Fortunately, we had not waited for another moment and we were first! This was a big day for us.
I would like to share one thought, Border Collies are very smart and need lots of attention. My husband and I felt good about getting him because we both had home offices and were there for him most of the time. Lecture finished.
I can remember the day that made me very sad. The day I realized that my dogs would never be able to talk to me. How wrong I was. They may not be able to say things in words but their expressions and barks will tell you a lot if you look and listen.
In our backyard, we also had a large koi pond. If you are not familiar with koi they are known to jump. One day, I was working at my computer and Tacoma started barking. But this was not a normal bark, it was one I had never heard before. I knew right away I should go look and see what was going on. There in the middle of the yard, several feet from the koi pond was a koi flipping around on the grass. Tacoma had tried to help it back (light teeth marks on fish), but he quickly learned he couldn’t do it and sounded the alarm.
I was able to scope up the fish and carefully place it back into the pond. The koi did survive for many more years. But only because our Border Collie told us the fish was in trouble.
Out of the blue, our younger teenage son came to me and said, “mom I want to get a dog.” My husband was not too sure but since we had a big yard I said “sure.” We must have looked at a hundred dogs, but nothing clicked.
We lived in a small town at the time so we would drive great distances to go look at various animal shelters. I was at my grocery store and there was a sign that the “local” animal sanctuary was going to have several dogs at an event that weekend for adoption. We went and our son fell in love with a mix breed dog—German Shepard, Chow and ?? He was quite old, so I took our son aside and talked about how he might not live long so he needed to be prepared for that. He said he was.
We brought him home and our son named him Buddy. A perfect name for this dog. Once home we discovered he had ticks, Yuck. He must have been in a lot of pain. We quickly got his health issues cleared up. You could see in his eyes how much happier he was. Buddy also was the first dog we had that howled. It made us smile every time. He was an amazing dog.
Now we had two dogs and it was amazing. They played with each other, and with us and there was so much good energy and happiness, more than we ever thought was possible. Two we discovered was a very good number.
Buddy only lived for another year, and it still brings tears to my eyes even as I am typing this, but as we all agreed, it was by far the best year of his life and he made our lives richer.
Healthier and More Fit
For me having a dog as a member of our family has helped me be healthier, and because of the long walks, we take every day more fit. I am sure it has helped fight off depression, and sadness from things that life has thrown at me. Every dog we have had has added to our lives. They contribute so much to my well being including an abundance of joy and happiness.
Current Stage of Life
Our last two dogs had passed away, and our two sons had flown the coop, so my husband and I, sitting in our big empty house, looked at each other and said, “well what’s next.”
Believe it or not, being a passionate dog lover (and cat) has lead to our becoming international pet sitters. Last year we traveled to 11 countries and pet sat in seven of them. As I write this we are in Asheville, North Carolina (yes we love it here), pet sitting two Great Pyrenees, a small King Charles Cavalier, and two Devon Rex cats. I call it my full house —3 dogs and 2 cats. (Update we are now in Luxembourg as I edit this, taking care of one of the smallest dogs named Francine. This makes our 51st house sit in 10 countries and a dozen US states.)
From here we are going to New York City, London, back to Rome for a month and then on to Spain. Our dogs (owned or borrowed) have made us happier, healthier, and now world travelers. We are thinking about settling down next year and find a place of our own. To have our own dogs again but until then we are enjoying other people’s pets like our own. Who knows where we will be a year from now? But you know there will be a dog or two in any future.
The Dogs I Have Loved
Family Dogs – 9
Cleo (short for Cleopatra), Tina (a very tiny dog), Boo (afraid or very excited about everything), Jasmine, Midnight, Tacoma, Buddy (son number two’s dog), Spencer, and Jax (son number one’s dog).
Pet Sitting Dogs – 46
Luna, Tessa, Polly, Joy, Sadie, Maize, Molly, Jodie, Cairnie, Bonnie, Aslan, Harvee, Krusty, Max, Tasha, Tilley, Maedel, Pascal, Finn, Atticus, Scout, Stella, Cash, Riesling, Pacha, Moses, Apollo, Gracie, Rosco, Harley, Heidi, Moski, Gobi, Dash, Firefly, Sadie, Keta, Mioko, Cooper, Kaya, Rebel, Murray, Jazzie, Piper, Philip, and Francine
Foster Parent – 10
One mom dog and her NINE puppies.
Others in Addition to the Dogs
We have also pet sat 51 cats, 3 ducks, and 2 rabbits
10 Countries We Have Housesat In
- US (12 states)
11 Additional Countries We Have Visited Because of Housesitting
- Vatican City
We have housesat from a long weekend to six months. The six-month housesit was for a family that went on an around-the-world cruise. April 2020, we will have been housesitting continuously for four years. If you need someone, preferably for more than a month, to love your pets so you can go on vacation please send us an email—firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: the website we use is Trusted Housesitters, if you decide to join please use our discount code RAF73241 or click on this link https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/raf73241 You will get a discount for joining and we will get two months added to our membership—a win, win.