julie computer pool 2

Pre-planning For Our Next Big Trip!

We’ve spent the last few months pet sitting in the UK while we save and plan for our next big adventure. This one will be our longest in duration and the furthest we’ve travelled as we head through Asia and on to Australia and New Zealand for what we hope will be a 12 month adventure.

We’ve had so many lovely messages from people we’ve inspired to take up House and Pet Sitting as a way of seeing more of the world. We thought this blog post may be really helpful for anyone thinking of planning a house and pet sitting adventure or perhaps some of you that have been building reviews locally with a plan to head off further afield.

We’ll be sharing details of all the pre-planning we’ve done which we hope will make our latest adventure go as smoothly as our last. We really hope you may find little snippets that you can use when planning your own house and pet sitting adventure.

Funding Our Travel

The most important first step has been for us to make sure we can afford the adventure. We always make a rough financial plan for any adventure and make sure we list every expense we’ll have to cover for that period of time. Once we have the final figure, we can then work out how we go about raising the funds for the trip.  So how do we get to that final figure?

OK, well we start with the most important list of costs …… Travel Insurance, Flight Costs, Transport On The Ground, Food Costs, Any Other Accommodation Costs and A Buffer Fund. We then take each one individually and break them down to get a final figure for each. So for our up coming 12 month trip the figures may look a lot at first glance, but spread them out over 12 months and the monthly cost is a lot less than you might think.  (Just to say our cost are in British Pounds, anyone from other countries reading this will need to convert the numbers to their own currency.

So here it is then our breakdown for the trip ahead.

Travel Insurance – £1,020 for the year (Yep I know its horrendous, hopefully you youngsters will get it much cheaper!!)
Flight Costs – £3,660 (Well we have quite a few flights …. UK to Thailand, Thailand to Australia, Australia to New Zealand, New Zealand to Australia, Australia to UK)
Transport on the Ground – £1,500 (This figure is our best guess, but we’ve worked out roughly what we need including taxis in Thailand, Buses in Australia, Car Hire and Trains in New Zealand.
Food Costs – £5,500 (Now not everyone could have a food budget so low, but we know how cheaply we can eat and worked out that we can live on £15 per day. How do we do it? Firstly, we rarely buy alcohol while we’re travelling, Secondly, we’ll live really cheaply on £5 a day 3 times a week, so we then get to live on £22.50 a day the other 4 days of the week (Happy Days)!
Any Other Accommodation Costs – £1,000 (Sometimes you just can’t get back to back house sits, which means you have a gap to fill and somewhere to stay is needed. Having room in the budget for this is a must. We’ll of course do whatever we can to get a free bed for the night, We’ve couch surfed like the rest of you youngsters!)
A Buffer Fund – £2,000 (If things go wrong and from time to time they will, a bit of a decent Buffer Fund is highly recommended. This could cover anything from a Sit cancellation to an unplanned plane ticket, who knows, but we’re glad to have it).

So lets summarise those costs:
Travel Insurance – £1,020
Flights – £3,660
Other Transport – £1,500
Food – £5,500
Other Accommodation Costs – £1,000
Buffer Fund – £2,000
Total Trip Budget – £14,680

That’s £14,680 for the year = £1,223 per month
You’ve got to say that’s not too bad when you think we’ll travel for 12 months to the other side of the world and back!

So we have our final number as approximately £1,250 a month we need to either earn while we travel, or as we do, earn before we travel.

How we fund our travel, including this trip, is through our online work, coupled with full time house sitting for a few months in the UK, which saves us £1000’s in costs (which we would have if we owned a home) Over just 5 months with careful spending we’ve saved a third of our upcoming trip amount. The rest will come from our online earnings.

OK, so that’s the funding sorted …… By the way if anyone may be wondering how to work remotely or how to go about setting up an online business, please take a look at this link: How To Fund A Life Of Travel

How We Worked Out The Budget

So now that we’ve worked out some figures, we’ll go through a bit more detail of how we worked all these numbers out.

1.) Travel Insurance
There are various types of insurance and depending on the length of time and type of trip will determine which is the best insurance for your needs. We’ve paid a higher price as we have to declare a pre-existing condition and we also have cover for 12 months. Insurance can be much cheaper for you youngsters and for shorter trips.
We’ve used Avanti and Allcleartravel recently for our travel insurance needs but shop around. Comparison Sites can be a good way of getting an idea of best prices.

2.) Flights
We tend to use a flight comparison site (Kayak and Skyscanner are our go-to sites) to initially check flight prices and then once we have found the best prices for a flight we take a look at the companies offering the flights and select a company we have used in the past.

If you take a look at the screenshot below, we’ve made a search for flights from London to Bangkok. Thai Airways have a well priced flight and the cheapest company offering the flight is Travel2Be. 

From experience, some of the third party budget flight sales companies offering the flights cheaper than the airlines themselves may be cheap, but they can be a nightmare to deal with once you’ve booked your flight. We’ve been lucky using some in the past, but on other occasions when we’ve needed to change flights, add seats and check in, some have been less than helpful. 

If you look at the screenshot below for the same flight, if you click on the little “20 more” icon, it lists all the companies selling the same flight. We also check the airlines price directly through their website as sometimes for an extra few pounds booking directly gives you a bit more peace of mind.

Everyone has a different view on flight bookings and it really depends on your budget. Personally, if its a short hall flight of 3 hours or so and we don’t mind where we sit on the plane we’ll always book the cheapest we can. If we’re flying for 8 hours or more and we want to sit next to each other we’ll do a bit more research on who we book through.

3.) Other Transport Costs
Although we have an idea of where we plan to visit on this adventure and have already pre-booked some airport transfers (we use Hoppa most of the time unless we can find a local taxi firm with good reviews).  We can’t plan every single bus, internal flight, boat transfer or train journey. We always do a little research in to which mode of transport would be cheapest in each country. Its worth doing the sums too, as an example, we almost booked an overnight train journey in Thailand which would have taken 12 hours, we then found that Airasia would fly us the same route for £10 more and have us at our destination in 1 hour.  Always shop around when you want to get from A to B. Social media is a great way to get tips from people who have already done the trip. Its amazing how many helpful people there are on local community groups and forums.

4.) Food Costs
We covered how we work out our food budget in the last section. We can live on £15 per day. How do we do it? Firstly, we rarely buy alcohol while we’re travelling, Secondly, we’ll live on £5 a day 3 times a week, so we then get to live on £22.50 per day the other 4 days of the week. We are very strict with this budget and the way we see it, we would rather eat and drink less, for the chance to visit a bucket list destination like the ones we’ve been lucky enough to visit in the pictures below!

5.) Other Accommodation Costs
As we mentioned before, sometimes you just can’t get back to back house sits, which means you have a gap to fill and somewhere to stay is needed. If you are happy bunking up with 12 others in a hostel room your budget may be much less than ours! Its a best guess figure but we’ve gone for 20 nights of accommodation at £50 per night which gives us a good couple of weeks extra accommodation in the budget should we need it. We always use Booking.com as they offer free cancellation on most rooms and this is a real plus if our plans change last minute and we need to cancel a room and get our money back.

6.) Buffer Fund
We mentioned earlier that things can go wrong from time to time on an adventure or you need some extra money for something you hadn’t planned to do. This can be anything from a visit to a doctor, a real pig out day at a restaurant, an unplanned plane ticket or a bucket list experience like paying for a bungy jump! A bit of a Buffer Fund is highly recommended and we’ve given ourselves £2000 which we’ll probably spend on bungy jumps and happy hour beer!

A Summary Of Pre -planning Any Trip

We hope you’ve found this blog post useful and we hope we’ve thought of everything we need to make our trip run smoothly. We’ll be setting off on the 10th November 2022 so look out for more blogs on our 12 month pet sitting adventures.

To finish though we’d just like to add a few more tips about pre-planning trips which again we hope some of you may find of use.

Currency
When we are planning a trip we are always very mindful of the amount of cash and currency we will need to carry while we are away. We always carry a little cash in the currency of the countries we are visiting. The rest of the currencies we will pre-load on to a pre-paid card. We highly recommend Revolut.  We’ve been using them since they first set up and we’ve always found them the perfect option for us. We load the card with our home currency (UK Pounds) and then change money to other currencies using an app, We have a physical visa card and a virtual card too. We can make payments and withdraw cash in any local currency we have on the card and we get really good exchange rates as well.

Border Controls
We make sure we have all our visa’s and papers in order before we head off on our adventure. This is really pretty important especially when we are House and Pet Sitting which often allows us to stay in a country longer than most tourists can afford.

Which ever country we are visiting, we check to see what visa requirement we need to arrange. Firstly, we check how long we can stay in the country as a tourist and make sure we can travel to our next country on a new visa. Our reason for visiting any country is as a tourist to see the sites, so as a result we require a tourist visa to enter some countries. We also check if any of the countries require us to provide an onward flight ticket, or to prove we have sufficient daily funds to pay for our stay. We also carry a rough itinerary of our route and include any paid accommodation bookings, stays with friends (our pet owners have already become friends before our trip – so we call them friends on our itinerary rather than pet sits!).  We include any other touristy things we have pre-booked such as car hire/transport and any attraction bookings. Anything that shows border control we are tourists (even if longer term tourists) and visiting their country to see the many amazing sites they have to offer us.

The Boring Bits
We weren’t going to include any boring bits but we thought we should just mention one more thing. We always make sure we have everything organised in our “home” country (we call the UK our home country even though we are Nomads, as this is where we are originally from). We book and pay for a dentist appointment for a check up and clean before we leave. We always give a family member our itinerary just in case anyone needs to know where we are in an emergency. We have top up phone cards for our home country. We pause these and buy new temporary pay as you go sims in any countries we are visiting. Another thing you may have to think about is if you have direct debits set up in your home country make sure you have left enough funds in your account while you are away!

Best of luck with your next adventure, have an awesome time and we hope you’ve found this blog post useful.

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julie computer pool 2

3 Months in Manly, Australia – Almost Accommodation Free!

We recently returned from a 3 month trip to the Sydney Northern beach resort of Manly in Australia and had the most amazing time along with 63 days of those days ACCOMMODATION FREE! saving us in excess of £10,000 in accommodation costs.   We stayed in beautiful homes in a location that would normally cost more than £1,200 per week rental fees!

We also had the company of beautiful Charcoal the Cavapoo pup for 7 of those weeks, staying in a nice apartment just 5 minutes walk from Manly Wharf. 2 further weeks were spent house sitting a lovely villa with private pool high on the clifftop with fabulous views of the ocean. 

All thanks to being part of the TrustedHousesitters Community which has given us this amazing travel opportunity.

Charcoal From Manly, Australia

We arrived in Sydney in mid December 2021 with Covid restrictions still in place, meaning we had to self isolate for 6 days while we had two negative tests after arriving in the country. We had pre-booked some cheap accommodation in Sydney for this time (ordinarily we would have been able to start house sitting as soon as we arrived and normally wouldn’t have the added cost of accommodation on arrival). Six days later, we were released from quarantine and stayed with our children in Sydney over Christmas. Our first 7 week house and pet sit was due to start shortly after Christmas.

We arrived at our house and pet sit about an hour before the owners were leaving. We had a tour of the apartment and a little walk with the owners and Charcoal the Cockapoo who would be our little pup for the next 7 weeks. The first evening we took little Charcoal down to the ocean and a lovely walk along the promenade.

Charcoal was the perfect little chap, who just loved to go everywhere with us and watched our every move. Over the next few weeks we had a wonderful time with him, taking him on long walks along the coast, drives to different beaches, dog parks and daily visits to the local cafes.

 Friday nights was happy hour at The Bavarian at the Wharf in Manly. This was Charcoal’s favourite pub, so we just had to take him along so he could people watch and scare the seagulls! He loved all the little outings he had with us.

Charcoal was really keen to explore Sydney with us and show us all the sites. The ferry that goes from Manly to Sydney requires dogs to be in a crate to be able to board the ferry.  Unfortunately the owners didn’t own a crate, so we asked the ferry crew if we could take him on in a bag which they agreed would be OK. So over the next few days we taught Charcoal to sit in a bag and walked him around the house in it. After a couple of days he loved it, so we took him on the ferry and a day trip in to Sydney.

While we had Charcoal we were lucky enough to spend time with our grandson. We asked the owners if it would be OK for Charcoal to join our sons dog Moose and our grandson at the local dog parks. The owners were thrilled as they new Charcoal really liked play dates with other dogs. Charcoal and Moose quickly became best buddies and had some really awesome times together.

Our 7 weeks with Charcoal was far too short. He really had a wonderful time with lots of fun at the beach and long walks along the coast. We took him swimming regularly. To start with he was a little hesitant to go very deep into the water but after a few days he was running and jumping in and fetching a ball and swimming with us. He also loved to people watch down by the Wharf or at the local coffee shops.

He also loved that we were at home a lot of the time too, as he liked to help us with our work, really loved to have some grooming and especially chilling with his wombat in his comfy bed.

After a tearful goodbye to Charcoal we headed off to a house sit about a 20 minutes walk from Manly Wharf. We didn’t have any pets to look after this time, just the property and the swimming pool which Jonathan has experience of from his days as a pool manager.  The house sit was for 3 weeks but unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worst and Sydney had the most rain and flooding for over 50 years. However, this didn’t put a damper on our time at the villa as we still managed to get a few walks out and visits from our little grandchild who even had a sleepover with us one night.

We spent our final week in Australia staying at the Boutique Lodge Manly to have a little bit of rest and relaxation, a final bit of time with the grandchild and get ourselves ready for the return trip to England.

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netty and tortoise

House Sitting

A Guide To Starting House Sitting

We’ve been house and pet sitting full-time now for nearly 5 years and have had long holidays in numerous locations with the company of adorable and loving pets and all we pay for is our transport and food. We spent 3 months in California, 3 months in Australia, 7 weeks in Spain, as well as time in France and Thailand. We’ve also stayed in many of the UK’s top tourist destinations. 
Read our step by step guide, including everything we’ve learned along the way.  Find out how you can become a house and pet sitter in your spare time, part time or full time and travel the world on a budget.

Us With Mookie at The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA

So What Does House Sitting Involve?

Basically, house sitting is when you live in and care for someone’s home, often taking care of their pets at the same time. To be honest, the majority of house sits do involve taking care of peoples pets as well as their home.
One of the real advantages of house sitting is that it allows you to “live like a local” instead of staying in hotels, you experience a destination as if you lived there yourself, with all the comforts of a home.
You don’t have to house sit full-time like us, its also perfect for the occasional getaway, or the odd week during the year. For example, we’ve had all sorts of house sits from a long weekend in Norfolk and Suffolk, to a week or two in Scotland and Wales. As well as longer sits in Spain, USA, Thailand and Australia.

What Does A House Sitter Do?

People use house sitters to look after their home and pets while they go away for short or long breaks. You’ll be responsible for looking after the security of the home and things like collecting the mail, watering plants and maybe cutting the grass on longer sits. The majority of people use house sitters as an alternative to boarding their pets. It’s clear that pets are much happier at home, following their normal routines, being looked after by other pet lovers who give them a holiday while their owners are away.

the travelling petsitters
Bonnie and Teddy Having a Happy Holiday At Home

Can Anyone House and Pet Sit?

Absolutely!  Potentially, anyone can house sit.  But you really must enjoy the company of pets and take the responsibilities and house sitting duties seriously.  We know of single sitters, couples, families and even people with their own pets having amazing experiences house and pet sitting around the world.

How Can I Start House and Pet Sitting?

It really is quite simple!  Just sign up to one of the many house sitting platforms.  OK, but which one though?  Well, we are registered with the largest one, Trustedhousesitters, we’ve been with them for nearly 5 years now and to be honest we haven’t needed to join any other platforms as we’ve found all the sits we needed for our adventures so far in the UK, Spain, America and Australia.

Charcoal in Sydney, Australia
Kai in Santa Monica, USA

Any Tips When Joining?

Well, there are few things we did from the moment we joined and we’re happy to share these with you and hope they help you become just as successful.

Once you’ve joined Trustedhousesitters its a good idea to consider the following. These are all the things we did and we are sure that they really helped us secure house sits.

Think About A Catchy Profile Photo!

You need to stand out from the competition so your profile really needs to catch the owners eye.  A catchy profile photo was the first thing we thought about.  We felt it was important to get across our love of pets.  If you click on “find a pet sitter” on the THS website, notice how many sitters only have a photo of them, but no pet in the photo. Not only does having a pet in the photo show your love of pets but also shows you have experience of pets already.

Our profile photo has us with beautiful Txuri the Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Ask People For Character References!

Ask people you know for Character References as these are really important. Not only do they show how reliable and suitable you are for house sitting but until you have some pet sitting reviews, references play a big part in your profile. They also show up under you profile photo when owners are searching for sitters.
Just as an example – on the right shows Julie has two Character References and Jonathan doesn’t. Julie already stands out!

Create A Great Profile For Yourself!

Highlight your strong points about your personality and what you would bring to the house/pet sit.
Include any past experience of house and pet sitting, however small, maybe you looked after your friends tortoise one day, just make sure its all included.
Have you got any skills that might be handy during the sit? Think about anything you may have done in the past, maybe you have some experience with larger animals, perhaps horses, or have training in swimming pool maintenance, maybe good at gardening or DIY, cleaning or property management skills. Dig deep and build a list to add to your profile!

Sell Yourself With Your Photo Gallery!

Try and use photos that will again show your love of pets. Maybe you’ve got some photos of pets you’ve had in the past, or you have friends that will let you have photos taken with their furry or feathered friends. We did just that, and as we’ve been on sits have made sure we take a photo at each sit suitable for our profile photo gallery. 

Any Tips For Getting Chosen For Sits?

Apply For Local House Sits First!

Probably our top tip that you might want to think about when starting out is to apply for local sits.  We did this ourselves, as we put ourselves in the owners shoes and thought that if we were handing over our house keys and furry babies to strangers we would really want to meet them first.  Especially as we had no sitter reviews when we first started.  When we applied for our first 15 sits we let owners know that we could come and meet them before they selected us. As a result, the face to face meet up made it really easy for all 15 owners to choose us, but it also gave us the opportunity to meet the pets and have a look at the home. It was a great chance for us to make sure we would also be happy to do the sit.

Be Quick To Apply When You See A Sit!

As soon as you see a sit that ‘grabs’ you – respond quickly. You’ll be amazed at the amount of sitters that will also apply for some of the best sits. Being the first to apply has often enabled us to secure a sit. As you can imagine pet owners want to get booked up quickly and will quite often pick the first sitter that fits all the criteria they are looking for, rather than wait for numerous applicants and then have to sift through them all.

Make Sure Your Application Catches Their Eye!

Your first chance to impress any potential home owners will be online when you contact them directly with your application to sit for them.  This will be the first impression the owners get of you.  We always make our application email personal to them, mentioning their pets by name and responding to any particular requirements the owners asked for. This shows you have read their advert thoroughly, after all they have probably spent quite a bit of time writing it!  Let the owners know what makes you the sitter they should choose.  Mention your abilities and experience whilst also injecting your own personality into what you say.  Sound as enthusiastic about the sit as possible and let them know what a great opportunity it would be for you as a sitter.

Be Sure To Offer A Video Call!

If you are lucky enough to be selected by owners on to their shortlist, you can be sure they’ll want to meet you virtually.  Make sure you let them know in your initial application that you’d be pleased to have a video call with them.  We have used Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime prior to confirming all our sits, it’s a great way to “meet” the homeowners, get to know them and ask any questions about the pets, house and sit in general.  Both parties need to feel happy and relaxed that they’ve made the right choice.

Any Tips Once I've Been Chosen?

Ask The Owner For The Welcome Guide!

Make sure you ask the owner to send you a copy of their Welcome Guide.  Read up on the sit well in advance, check that you have details of everything about the house, from the mains water tap and WIFI codes to the security alarm code and bin collection days. The pets routines and feeding information, details and phone numbers of the vets and any emergency contact numbers.  Always arrive well prepared for the sit. Make a list of all the main points from the owners welcome guide.

Keep In Regular Contact With The Owner!

Anything you think of before the sit, either before or when you read the welcome guide, make sure you ask all the questions you need answered before the owner leaves you in charge.
Keep in contact with the owner about a suitable arrival time and just ensure you have a little contact with the owner before the sit, just to re-assure them you’ll be there on the day of the sit.  Remember that some owners will be using a sitter for the first time and may be a little worried that the sitter won’t arrive.
Keep in touch with the owners while they are away. Its a great idea to ask how much communication they would like from you during your stay.  Some owners love a daily picture and update of how their furry loved ones have been getting on.  Some owners prefer contact only if an emergency arises.  Ask what the homeowner prefers.  We love to send photos of the pets showing they are happy and healthy, we think it puts the owners minds at rest while they are away from their home.

Do A Great Job And Receive A Brilliant Review!

As well as obviously taking great care of the pets and sending the owners little messages and photos while they are away.  Keep the owner’s home clean and tidy.  We probably go a little overboard when cleaning up before the owners return, but it all goes towards a good overall impression of how you have gone about completing the sit and the respect you have for the owners home.  Recommendations often come from going a little above and beyond what most would consider normal!
On the owners return, apart from ensuring their pets are happy and relaxed and coming home to a clean house, consider spending a little time with them when they return.  We have cooked a meal for some of our owners and chatted about our time in their home with their pets and listened to stories about the owners time away.  If you’re a little short of time, then even a cake and coffee goes down very well.
Be sure to give the owner hints before you leave or in a little message a few days after the sit about giving you a review, a genuine review that can be read by future owners that may be considering you will be invaluable for your future sits!

We hope this blog post helps you start your journey as a house and pet sitter!

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Pet Sitting Rescue Dogs

Pet Sitting Rescue Dogs

Pet Sitting Rescue Dogs

We have just completed our 43rd pet sit, caring for Kai a big strong 4 year old male  German Shepherd/Pit Bull Cross.  

This has been our most challenging pet sit yet and also our most rewarding one.  

So much so, that I felt compelled to share our experience with Kai and our other experiences so far with the different rescue dogs we have cared for, in the hope of highlighting some of our key observations we have made and strategies that have worked, that may help fellow sitters with rescue dog assignments and perhaps even owners of rescue dogs who are keen to hear about our experiences and results.

Meet Kai 4 year old German Shepherd/Pit Bull Mix

Kai is a rescue dog with more than a few anxiety issues, makes you wonder what the first part of his life was like.  Woe betide anyone that strokes him without him seeing your hand move first and takes him unawares, lots of defensive barking.  To add to that recently Kai had a traumatic event happen, his owner told us, when a previous pet sitter who got his prong chain collar stuck on him tightly and had to call in Animal Control to snip it off of him. Since then he has been understandably guarded about his collar. A next sitter left after just one day as Kai became aggressive towards her (all because of his anxieties with this collar).

He is a big strong dog and he gets over excited and hard to calm down.   But when he does we can tell he has a loving side to him and wants to be good. As Pet Sitters we do all we can for the pets in our care and call on all our experiences and kindness to keep them safe and happy and feeling loved, always being respectful of their characters and anxieties.   We’ll never be able to fix all the anxiety problems of a rescue dog that misses his mum and has had a recent trauma with a stranger.  What we do is to try to create our own little oasis of calm and love for the pets and we take it everywhere we go.

Kai loved evening time and laid on or very close to us on the sofa, it melts our hearts seeing this softer side of him. He actually sleeps on the bed, so he must want to feel close to us, we didn’t mind. He has a cuddly blanket that he holds and sucks on at night when he’s tired, he’s such a needy boy really, it pulls on our heart strings.

Our week was consumed with providing Kai with so much love, encouragement, praise and attention.  We told him ‘good boy’ continuously, unless it was not appropriate.

Meet Kai

Kai lives with his lady owner and she mentioned on our arrival that Kai is quite dominant. He pulls on the lead, can be very boisterous when playing and barks at dogs he doesn’t like.   He gets ‘spooked’ at loud sudden noises and if he is touched/stroked unexpectedly.  She told us that on occasions Kai will guard the door to stop her from leaving him when she goes to work. 

So with all of the above, we have set the scene for you about the type of pet with issues we have in our care for the week!

The prong collar Kai wears, his owner told us, is due to his pulling on walks.  However, he has big issues with this collar as we explained above. 

Now, I hear you shouting, why is the owner still making the dog wear the collar?  The answer is that the owner, who has no problem herself putting it on Kai, felt it stops him pulling on the lead.   She was very anxious about us using the collar with Kai,  but she wanted us to use it as she knew it was a collar strong enough to hold him.

In fact, Kai is a clever dog and we believe could quickly be trained to walk better on the lead without pulling and then eliminating the need for the prong type of collar.  We kept him close to us when walking and avoided other dogs when we could.  When we had to pass another dog, we would turn and distract Kai away, getting him to sit for treats and then lots of praise when he ignored the other dog. By the end of our week he was walking much better, sitting at pedestrian lights, we were so proud of him!

Before I continue, having read just this back, it must sound as if this dog is far too dangerous to be left with strangers. But, honestly, Kai is anything but dangerous as we grew to learn during our time with him. 

We’d love for you to continue reading this post and please do send your comments and experiences at the bottom of this blog post page. We ourselves learn something new about the pets in our care on every single sit and are still learning from others, it would be great to hear your experiences so we can all learn together.

Kai The Rescue
Kai Has A Lot Of Love To Give But Always Had An Ear Up Listening - Never Totally Relaxed!

Thanks for staying with us! I have become extremely interested in rescue dogs behaviour and recently taken a course in Canine Behaviour Training, purely to further my understanding of these beautiful animals.

Lets continue by telling you about the experience we had with Kai, what we learned and what we tried to provide him with the best pet sitting experience we possibly could.

Managing Aggressive Play with Kai

On arrival we were greeted with boisterous excitement from Kai and his immediate request for us to play tug the toy with him. The owner said he loved this type of play but can get a little aggressive and when this happens we should turn away and hide our hands and he then knows to stop.

Now we’ve sat for a number of dogs that love a game of tug of war, but Kai’s toy tugging play was true to the owners comment, meaning it quickly turned to aggressive behaviour towards myself including accidental biting, growling, and scratching. He really just didn’t know when and how to stop, the build up of excitement just got to a stage where he lost control.

From the moment we took charge of Kai, we toned down the tug playing game to a very gentle style, which meant that Kai would no longer be really pulling the toy away from us, each time he began to pull we just let go, as a result he just kept coming back to let us grab hold of the toy each time. If we felt he was starting to show any signs of aggression we would immediately let go of the toy.

With lots of praise and encouragement to be gentle and this very calm approach to his favoutie tug play, as soon as the second day we saw signs of a much gentler play from him and very little sign of the aggressive play we’d first experienced.   As with all dog training, repetition, routine and rewards are definitely key. We noticed through the week Kai was playing in a much gentler manner.

Thinking about it though, if a dog has aggressive issues, its perhaps not such a good idea to encourage games that encourage signs of aggression. Maybe using a Kong to entertain them and throwing a ball when on walks might be a more suitable way of entertaining them.

Managing Stress Related Aggression

Our dreaded collar issues comes under this section!   I have aleady told you about the awful experience Kai had with his collar just a few months before we sat for him, when his prong collar got tangled and had be cut off him.  Now I can’t begin to imagine what an awful experience this must have been for Kai and trying to imagine what a stressful experience it was for him helped immensely in how we would go about fastening and removing his collar before and after each walk.

He was understandably very wary of having his collar put on and in particular having it taken off, especially with us being total strangers, so we took a gentle approach which seemed to be working well for the first couple of days. However, on day three, as we were taking off the collar he got spooked by a loud outside noise and became very aggressive to tell us to stop. Now any one that has experienced first hand an aggressive dog will know what a scary experience it can be! A few minutes after the event it was so obvious that Kai was very sorry and that his intention was not to harm us but just to tell us he was frightened.

In order to ensure Kai didn’t have any undue stress we decided to leave the collar on while we came up with a plan that may help him become more trusting of having the collar removed and be more comfortable with what for most dogs is a regular part of daily life.

We are true believers that the best form of dog training is praise and rewards.   So using this Reward method, we would sit Kai down, 4 times a day, and show him a treat while we clipped his lead to the prong collar. Each time he let us do this we gave him the treat and plenty of praise. Kai was pretty intelligent and got the idea very quickly that the treat related directly to him letting us clip the lead to the collar.

We felt that we needed to gain Kai’s trust more before we attempted again to take his collar off. So coupled with the treats and praise when attaching and removing the lead, we spent a lot of time cuddling him, stroking him and pretending to accidentally touch the collar while giving him plenty of praise. We continued this for a full 3 days before we made the attempt to try and remove the collar. On day 6, on our return from the morning walk, Kai was already sitting waiting, his eyes fixed on his treat which was showed to him every time we removed the lead, but this time, very gently, we slid the collar off him …… and it worked!  He got lots of praise as you can imagine.

The combination of treats, praise, building trust and repetition turned Kai’s bad experience into one that he now associated as being a positive experience (even if he ultimately new he would receive a treat as a reward for being so good!) 

Managing Nervous Anxiety with Harry

August 2019 we sat for Harry – a very nervous and anxious but totally sweet rescue Saluki.   Harry’s parents were retired and spent all of the day with him, never leaving him for more than a couple of hours.  He was an extremely nervous dog, frightened of tall men in particular they said and they had never left him before with pet sitters. Bearing this in mind, when the owners got in touch we went out of our way to go and visit them prior to confirming the sit, so that they could meet us and hopefully be reassured that we would be suitable sitters for Harry but also for us to get a little idea of Harry’s anxieties.

Meet Harry The shy Saluki!

From the moment we arrived at the home and the owners left for their vacation, Harry spent the whole day laying upstairs on the bed clearly wanting to be away from us.  Julie went up regularly to check on him and chatted to him as she spent time in the room with him so that he could get to know her voice and presence.

Fully understanding Harry’s anxieties helped Julie coax him around to at least come down for his evening meal. It was clear that his anxiety was with me as the owners had made us aware of his nervousness of tall men. I gave him plenty of space and if close to Harry I made sure I spoke softly and made no sudden movements.

Julie was very quick to bond with Harry, she has a bit of a gift with anxious rescues and not only was she able to coax him to come down for his supper she  also got him to sleep in his basket next to her side of the bed that night. The key thing was that we respected his anxiety and accepted that I had to almost ignore Harry until he felt ready to express an interest in me, as difficult as that was for me.

On day 2 Harry began walking passed me without becoming nervous and dashing by me as quick as he could, as he had before.   On day 3 Harry ate his breakfast while I was in the kitchen – what dog doesn’t warm to the person that fills his food bowl up!  He then let me take him out for his first walk of the day on our own – huge progress and a turning point.   

Most dogs love to be groomed and Harry was no exception his owners had told us.  So here was another chance to bond with him, at grooming time. Must have felt nice, we caught him smiling!

On day 4 Harry slept on the bed with us and let me stroke him and from then on happily came to me to have his lead put on at walk times. He had at last bonded with me through our taking gentle steps with him and going at Harry’s pace!  A really rewarding experience!

Harry The Saluki

Managing Separation Anxiety with Monty

We saw signs of separation anxiety behaviour whilst caring for  Monty – a rescue Jack Russell Cross. This is quite a difficult anxiety to know how to manage but we found the best way to go about it was to keep Monty happy and entertained to take his mind off him missing his parents and being fretful.   Taking him on his favourite long walks and lots of playtime with treats during the day and most importantly, for the first few days, was not leaving him on his own. This was a little easier as we were a couple so if we needed provisions one of us could go out for them. 

Meet Monty The Jack Russell Cross

This approach worked really well, spending lots of fun time with Monty, and over these first few days we saw a real change in his emotions and growing in confidence and he began to enjoy cuddles from us instead of shying away.

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Venice, California

Venice Beach So What’s It Really Like

Venice, California
Welcome to Venice, California!

We were excited to be spending Christmas and New Year in Venice Beach, we’d been pretty lucky to be chosen for the sit from quite a few applicants and would be caring for 2 easy cats for the owners. We headed straight down from our house sit in Placerville via Pacific Highway 1.

Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in Venice Beach take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!

We had the use of the owners lovely 3 bedroom home just a 20 minute walk from Venice Beach Boardwalk. A pretty good location to explore Venice and nearby Santa Monica.

Meet Smudge and Cashmere, our Venice Pet Sitting Buddies!

Venice Beach was not quite what we expected, or should we say not like the photos depicted. First impression of the boardwalk was of a mix of graffiti, an abundance of clothing stores, fast food outlets and we feel we have to mention it, the numerous homeless people encamped along the boardwalk. We only mention this as we want to portray and honest version of our stay in Venice. We also feel very sorry that our fellow humans have been put in a position that they have to live on the streets. We’d be very interested to here anyone else’s first impression of Venice Beach, please feel free to drop us a comment at the bottom of this blog.

Having given our first impression, we have to say that our impression did change the longer we stayed in Venice, so please read on!

Venice Beach Promenade
Venice Beach Promenade!

Second impression was a little different once we had googled a little more about Venice Beach. We found words like, “interesting”, “eclectic” and “crazy” and started build an idea of exactly what Venice Beach was all about. In summary it really is an unusual place and a really great place to people watch!

Graffiti Art Venice Beach
Just one of some of the amazing graffiti art around Venice Beach!

Venice does actually pay homage to its Italian name sake, as it has a section of canals at one end of the town, colourful buildings, lots of rather unique art and certainly a lot of unusual characters who you’ll regularly see on the boardwalk.

Venice Canals California
Venice Canals in California!

The beach is pretty amazing, stretching as far as the eye can see, its attached to Santa Monica at one end and encompasses Marina del Rey at the other. If you walk toward Marina del Rey along the boardwalk you’ll eventually hit one of the best parts of the beach in my opinion, just last the pier and away from the hustle and bustle of Venice you’ll find a beautiful stretch of sand fringed by some rather unique houses and apartment buildings. Head the other way towards Santa Monica, past Muscle Beach and the rather should we say unique part of Venice boardwalk, you’ll reach the first part of Santa Monica where you can almost feel the different vibe!

View of Venice Beach
Venice Beach and the Boardwalk!

So what about some brunch while in Venice? Well, like many travellers we headed to Egg Slut, which is located just by the Venice Sign. We grabbed a couple of Bacon, Egg and Cheese to go. For some reason they didn’t serve coffee after 11.30am, so we headed down the boardwalk to Starbucks!

Eggslut Venice Beach
Two of the biggest Eggsluts you've ever seen!

One more thing before you go. Be sure to head down to the beach at dusk, as Venice is known for having some pretty amazing sunsets!

Venice Beach Sunset
Beautiful sunset at Venice Beach!

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Placerville

Exploring Hangman Town Now Known As Placerville

Placerville
Placerville or as it was called in the old days Hangman Town

Our California house sitting journey has take us to Hangman Town known today as Placerville. An old gold mining town with a very interesting past, particularly for a number of criminals hanged from a tree for their crimes way back in the 1840’s and 50’s hence it used to be called Hangman Town.

Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in Placerville take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!

Our accommodation for the week was house sitting for a couple who had a property up in the hills with lots of land looking over the town and we had the pleasure of caring for their cat called Suni and three very characterful chickens.

Placerville Pet Sitting
Pet Sitting Our Three Feathered Friends

Placerville retains its old gold mining town charm and feels a bit like going back in time when you head down into the main street. With its bell tower in the square and reminder of its Hangtown past with the local ice cream parlour still having a noose hanging from its top floor. Couple this with main the street full of shops with old fashioned signs and four wheel drives signifying that you really are up in the hills, makes this a real experience of imagining how it was back in the gold rush era.

Hangman Tree now days an ice cream parlour!

Our favourite coffee stop was Placerville Coffee Depot located at the end of Main Street and Hog Wild BBQ provided us with a great meal, check them out if you like ribs, chicken or pulled pork.

We were visiting in December and amazed at the number of shops specialising in Christmas ornaments and decorations. It looked as if they sold them all year round, really pretty to look round but amazing to think that people are buying Christmas decorations all year round!

Placerville Town Centre
Placerville Town Centre

For food shopping you’ll need to head to the other end of town which felt like you were going to another town all together, its a good couple of miles along Placerville Drive to Raley’s Supermarket or take the main highway to Perks Corner and you’ll find a Safeway Store.

For the cheapest petrol in town head for Fuel 4 Less at the end of Main Street.

Parking in Placerville is pretty good too, roadside parking and a few car parks, all offer 2 hours free parking before they start charging. Plenty long enough to explore the town and grab a coffee.

Haircut in Placerville
Jonathan getting a trim at the one of a kind Barbers Shop in Placerville, best place to find out all the local gossip!

One of the main reasons for us taking the house sit out in Placerville was the opportunity to take a day trip to Lake Tahoe. Its a must go place for fabulous scenery, good skiing and water sports, really good hiking spots and great places to eat and drink.

Lake Tahoe
Beautiful Lake Tahoe

We took the stunning scenic route 50 through Eldorado Forest to South Lake Tahoe. Talk about a stroke of luck as we had heard about a winter storm a few days before we arrived in Placerville and half expected the road to be closed or snow chains needed. But we had blue sky, clear roads and snow on the trees. It was just like one of those scenic drives you only ever dream of doing. Simply beautiful!

Winter Drive to Lake Tahoe
The stunning drive to Lake Tahoe

After about an hours drive we reached South Lake Tahoe, a really popular town boasting ski resorts and a fabulous lakeside location, providing what can only be described as paradise for water sports and winter sports lovers!

Our plan was to drive the 72 miles around the lake, and we decided to go anti clockwise due to the position of the sun for photos. We set of on the 89 towards Tahoe City.

Winter in Lake Tahoe
Jonathan trying to capture the beauty of Lake Tahoe

First stop was the Emerald Bay View Point for what has to be one of the best views of Lake Tahoe. There are a few view points where you can capture panoramas of the mountains and lake. We hiked out through the snow to a cliff top overlooking the lake which took some doing, but we had it to ourselves and captured what we thought was the perfect selfie.  After a long hike back to the car, we set off heading further north, shortly arriving at the official Emerald Bay View point with a really easy walk to get the perfect selfie! We drove past it muttering!

Emerald Bay View Point
The most photographed point at Lake Tahoe - Emerald Bay View Point

Second stop was Tahoe City, a waterfront location and plenty of shops, but not a decent coffee shop in sight, so we headed further north!

Coffee Lake Tahoe
One of the most scenic coffee stops ever!

Third stop was incline village where we hunted down a Starbucks to takeaway. Incline village is pretty big actually and has some fabulous houses and a great place to pay a visit to Lake Tahoe State Park and San Harbour, which were our next stop, the perfect spot to sit on the rocks and drink takeaway coffee!  There is a really nice footpath walk by the side of the lake at Secret Harbor and some great photo opportunities at Secret Cove and Chimney Beach.

Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park!

Heading back down to the southern part of the lake taking the 28 and then on to the 50 we passed through Nevada State Park, East Shore Forest and Zephyr Cove Park as we return to our start point at South Lake Tahoe just as the sunset. From the lakeside we could watch the last few skiers taking their last run down the mountain at the Heavenly Ski Resort while watching the sun set over the lake and mountains in the other direction. A great finish to a fantastic day!

South Lake Tahoe - ski runs in the background taken from the lakeside!

We had a great week staying at Placerville, drinking coffee on the porch while feeding the chickens and caring for their sweet kitty. We even had a couple of visits from the local wild black turkeys that roam the area.

Placerville A Visit From Wild Turkeys
A visit from the wild turkeys in the back garden of the house!

In summary we found Placerville a beautiful place to spend a week. The highlight was definitely the day trip to Lake Tahoe, and we really recommend taking the time to try and get up to the lake if you are visiting California, its well worth the drive, so much so that we would love to return and stay down by the lake if ever a house sit came up down there, we are keeping our eye out for one!

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netty and tortoise

Start House Sitting

Want to know about a fantastic way to see the world on a budget??  House and Pet Sitting is the latest trend of low cost travelling – whether you want a long term adventure or an affordable vacation staying ACCOMMODATION FREE!  read on! Do you enjoy the company of animals, meeting new people and want to extend your travel budgets …. if this sounds good – then continue reading because we want to tell you more about this fur-bulous way to travel and how it all works.   So many people say it must cost a fortune to fund all of our travels, it doesn’t, we have a very low travel budget, here’s how it works!

House sitting allows you to ‘live like locals’ instead of staying in bland hotels. You will meet the most wonderful and gracious people along the way. We hope this blog will help you start your own adventure travelling around the world!

Fancy travelling the world ACCOMMODATION FREE ?
Join now and start your journey with Trustedhousesitters –  Meeting new people, seeing new places all with the ‘furbulous’ company of owners’ pets. Receive 20% discount off the 1st years membership by clicking here

This concept of travelling to different destinations caring for owners homes and pets can work for any adult age group.  You just have to love animals and be aware of your responsibilities to the owner for their pets and their home and understand that house and pet sitting is a commitment and not a free holiday; keeping all the time to the owners’ wishes and instructions. Younger adults are embracing this way of travelling, often full-time.  But this way of travel isn’t just for younger long-term nomads, pet sitting is a great way to spend your retirement, it may only be for short breaks now and then, enabling you to enjoy a different location and a new environment. House and pet sitting can make life so interesting and varied and the house sits range from weekends to months in length.

Pet sitting is a win/win for both pet sitters and pet/home owners. The owners get to travel with peace of mind because their home and pet(s) are being exceptionally well cared for in their own home and with no costly boarding expenses. And travelling Pet sitters like us, get to enjoy time staying in beautiful cities around the world giving lots of love to pets and homes. Another great aspect to this adventure is that no money changes hands; it is all about trust, obligation, diligence, kindness and care.

SO THE FIRST THING TO DO IS JOIN AN ONLINE HOUSE SITTING AGENCY –   

There are now quite a few that bring together house/pet Owners and house/pet Sitters. The Owners advertise their ‘sitter’ requests and on the same website house/pet Sitters are able to promote themselves and their strengths and their availability to sit. Our favourite by far, is this House/Pet Sitting platform Trustedhousesitters  – it is the one that we use, it has the largest international house sitting community – covering over 70 countries – and we can fully recommend it because we are paying members ourselves.   It has been around since 2010.  They have the greatest number of world wide listings and the highest quality listings.    What would you say to this??? – Three months living in a beach house on a Caribbean island?  A month in a villa Southern France…..yes, for real!  

You can read here about ‘how to’ along with ‘tips on’  joining the online House sitting Community   and further below we have outlined further points think about. 

There is an annual fee to pay to sign up to the TrustedHousesitting online Agency – both for Owners and Sitters. The fee starts at £99.00 GBP for the basic membership up to £199 GBP for the premium membership.

Once you have signed up as a Sitter, you will be able to read the twice daily postings of the latest house sits that are emailed to you direct as placed on their website by home owners.  Then, when you see a sit that gets your attention ie. the pets, dates, location etc are of interest to you, then you can apply to do the sit via the secure website. 

Pet sitters of course fund their travel costs to arrive at the sit. And in exchange for the caring and loving of the pet(s) and the owners home, and garden if needed, swimming pool etc., the accommodation is free, therefore, keeping living costs extremely low for the sitter.  The majority of our last two years have been spent house-sitting, saving us well over £10,000 in accommodation costs, allowing us to spend that savings on an incredible set of travel experiences we might never have enjoyed otherwise.  For instance the saving helped us fund a 16 day road trip around California before the start of our international pet sitting adventure in the USA.

Once you have joined an international pet/house sitting agency you need to think about the following:

1.  CREATE A GREAT PROFILE FOR YOURSELF………….You need to stand out from the competition!   Your Profile has to really impress the owners.  Head on over to our blog post ‘tips on creating your great Profile‘ for help on creating your great profile.

2.  RESPOND TO SITS QUICKLY…………………… When you see a sit that ‘grabs’ you apply as quickly as possible, you will be amazed at the amount of sitters that will also apply. If you are lucky enough to be selected by owners on to their shortlist – offer the opportunity to Skype/Facetime. We have Skyped prior to confirming all our sits, it’s a great way to ‘meet’ the homeowners and get to know them, both parties need to feel happy and relaxed that they’ve made a good choice.   In our opinion you can gauge very quickly in this type of ‘meet up’ if you’ve found a good match.

3.  READ THE HOUSE OWNER’S REQUIREMENTS ……………….  Observe these fully and make sure you are comfortable and able to carry out the requested tasks. It may be that the dog will need two hour-long daily walks, or the pet may be in need of daily injections, there may be specific house/pool maintenance tasks. Don’t commit unless you are happy to carry out all of the responsibilities. Of course do your own due diligence about the location of the sit, research the neighbourhood, you want to be sure you feel happy in that locality especially if the sit is for an extended period of time.

4.  TRAVEL VISA REQUIREMENTS………………. They differ sometimes from one country to another and you want to be sure that you comply with the Visa requirements fully. Before taking on a sit in another country make sure that you are able to stay in that country long enough or you are able to apply for any necessary visa in time for the sit.

5.  ARRIVE FULLY PREPARED ……………. Make sure you have received the Owner’s Welcome Pack at least a week before you arrive for the sit. It will contain all the relevant information about the house and the pet(s), more detailed information on the owners requirements, emergency contact information, location of the nearest clinic/hospital, watering of indoor and outdoor plants, dishes they prefer not to be used, how to operate the home alarm system if there is one, the vets details etc. Always make a note of the main specifics to take with you on arrival and a note of any questions to ask the homeowners. It’s your job to make sure you ask all the questions you need answers to.

6.  KEEP IN TOUCH……………. Not going overboard, but certainly letting the owners know how everything is going and how their pet(s) are doing. Of course some owners want frequent updates and some not so much. You can always ask the owner’s preference about this. We always send a photo or two showing the pet(s) happy and relaxed, to put the owners minds at rest while they are away from their home.

7. RESPONSILIBITY…………….. Whether you are staying in a villa in Italy or somewhere amazing you have never visited before, never lose sight of the responsibility of pet care.  Of course the owners will want you to enjoy their home area and explore a little, if we are sitting for say dogs and they are happy to explore with us we are always happy to take them with us, if not, we never leave the home/pets for long periods of time, never for more than 4-5 hours in a day, go by what the owners say too.  If the homeowner walks their dog an hour in the morning and an hour each evening; you need to commit to that schedule 100%. While you’re not getting paid, taking care of the pet is still ‘your job’ and that responsibility should be taken very seriously.

8.  RESPECT THE OWNER’S HOME…………….You will need to treat the owners home as you would your own, keeping it clean throughout, dusting and vacuuming, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, and before the owner returns making sure all that you have used – fridge, microwave, oven, toaster etc are all thoroughly cleaned.

9.  ON THE OWNER’S RETURN……………… As well as having the owners house clean and ready for them along with having their pets relaxed and exercised, it’s a really nice idea to have a meal prepared for the owners on their homecoming, you can chat about their travels, tell them how the pet/house sit has gone all over a home cooked meal and a glass of wine. This obviously depends on the owners return time along with having an idea of what the owners like to eat!

10.  ASK FOR A REFERENCE …………….. If you have done a great job they will give you a great reference and that will go a long way towards your future sits. Informing prospective owners on your sitting performance. On TrustedHousesitters the pet/homeowners post their reference directly to the website.  No one can revise or edit the reference in anyway before it’s posted, so all references are genuine.

With home and pet sitting you get to live like a local. You get to know the locals and their lifestyle. As a tourist you often only see the tourist sights where you’re staying, but as a house Sitter you get to see the daily life of locals, visit the local market and chat to neighbours. The house Owners will give you great local knowledge on best sights to go to as well as best coffee shops and lunch spots.

House sitting, especially those for longer periods, allows the opportunity to travel at a much more relaxed pace.  Where possible we always take the pet(s) with us on journeys out, mixing visiting local sites and places of interest with their exercise requirements.  If they cannot or do not like to walk too far or journey in the car, we make sure they are well cared for/exercised etc before we pop out to the shops or for a visit and make sure we return within the acceptable time that the Owners have instructed us about.

Making worldwide friendships – you get to know the owners, initially through the correspondence you have together about the sit and then further when you have been accepted. You get to meet the owners at the beginning of the sit and then when they return from their vacation and the communication whilst they are away. We have made long-lasting friends around the globe. When you do a great job for the owners, they are so grateful to you for caring for their treasured pets and as sitters you are thankful to them for welcoming you into their home – they open up their homes to you, often introducing you to their families and neighbours and very often a strong and immediate bond is formed. Having the opportunity to meet new people all around the world is something we cherish and feel very grateful for.

Pet sitting can be truly life changing as it has been for us who have taken to pet sitting almost full time. Pet sitting can also open up opportunities to travel to countries you never thought you’d get to travel too – in our case California and Cape Town so far – where will our pet sitting journey take us to next?

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Mookie in San Francisco

Pets Sitting in San Francisco With Mookie The Samoyed

Mookie in San Francisco
We have been lucky enough to have the chance to visit San Francisco all thanks to pet sitting. Our live in buddy for 10 days was Mookie the Samoyed. Just 1 and a half years old and full of energy, Mookie showed us the sights of Sunset District, his favourite Ocean Beach walk and all his mates down in the dog park at Stern Grove.
Tip: To give yourself the best chance of getting some amazing sits like this one in San Francisco take a look at our post on Joining Trusted House Sitters, full of tips on how to stand out above the crowds!
We had the use of the owners beautiful home in the heart of Sunset District, just a mile from the beach and a short walk to supermarkets and restaurants. The owners were kind enough to leave us their car so we could explore the area further and take Mookie to some of his favourite places.
Mookie in the Car
Mookie Seeing If His Mates Were At The Beach!

Ocean Beach

A beautiful long sandy beach that welcomes dogs, the beach stretches from past Golden Gate Park to the end of San Francisco Zoo. Its a popular beach for surfers and has plenty of roadside parking. Mookie loved it here, chasing sticks, digging in the sand and playing with passing dogs.
Tip: Make sure to head to the beach for Sunset, you can get some great photos and watch the sunset while sitting on the sand dunes.
Mookie at the Beach
Amazing Sunset With Mookie at The Beach!

Stern Grove

Spanning over 30 acres Stern Grove Recreational Park is a great place for dogs as it has a nice dog park popular with the locals. Located in Sunset District it was just a few minutes drive from the house and one of Mookie’s favourite places. We took him to the park in the mornings as this was when his best friends a lively Alsatian, a Springer Spaniel and a baby French Bulldog were at the park. He couldn’t resist a paddle in Pine Lake one of three lakes in the park.

Tip: Keep an eye out for the dates of Stern Grove Festival, a free event of weekly concerts and performances held at the outdoor amphitheatre.

On Our Way to Stern Grove Dog Park!

Downtown San Francisco

Unfortunately we were unable to take Mookie downtown as he wasn’t very keen on the crowds and traffic. The bus stop was conveniently located at the end of the road and the owners had said that the traffic and parking were both horrendous down town, so as we didn’t have Mookie with us we opted for the bus. We ordered a $5 all day ticket using the MuniMoblile App giving us access to all buses. A 50 minute bus journey from Sunset to Downtown, a quick change of bus and then down to Fisherman’s Wharf. 
 
The Wharf is lined with shops and restaurants, make sure you walk as far as Pier 39, bustling with great places to eat, a variety of shops and a great atmosphere. If you fancy a boat trip under Golden Gate Bridge or a excursion to Alcatraz, then you can book them down at the wharf or during the busy months probably a good idea to book online.
Tip: We had lunch at Chowders on Pier 39, a bustling little restaurant serving great Clam Chowder, Fish and Chips and really good prawn cocktail. We highly recommend the Chowder, they serve both red and white, we opted for the white!
After lunch we took a walk up the steep hill at Hyde Street to take a look at the famous crooked street features 8 hairpin turns. You can take the Tram up the street if hill walking isn’t your thing!
 
Before we headed home to Mookie we had time to take a bus up to China Town to pick up some cheap fruit and veg. From here we could walk to Union Square shopping district, home to stores including Macy’s, Bloomingdales and H&M. From here we picked up the No.7 bus back to Sunset District.
Fishermans Wharf San Francisco
Pier 39 at Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco!

Best Views Of Golden Gate Bridge

We just had to have a selfie at Golden Gate Bridge, so did a little research and found out that there are a few places you can get a good view from. We took the scenic drive from Sunset District around Sea Cliff. We stopped at Baker Beach to walk Mookie and had a picture with him on the beach and Golden Gate Bridge. We then drove on to Golden Gate Lookout for a selfie, but actually found that the photos on the beach had a better angle of the bridge.

Selfie Of Golden Gate Bridge
Selfie At Golden Gate Bridge

Funston Beach and Park

A little gem just south of San Francisco Zoo and opposite Lake Merced, Funston Park is a great place to take the dog, with lovely walking paths following Sunset, Chip or Horse Trail. Sheltered by pine trees and with beautiful ocean views from some areas of the walking trails it really is an idyllic area. A popular hand gliding site too.

Funston Beach Trail takes you down a steep path which accesses the beach. A beautiful stretch of beach, when we visited we had the whole beach to ourselves. There is a car park at the southern end of the park.

This was one of Mookie’s favourite places to go!

Funston Beach
Mookie Having A Great Time With New Friends At Funston Park And Beach

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is huge measuring 1,017 acres and is located at the north end of Sunset District and really popular it boast within the park a golf course, an angling club, a dog training area, polo field, pedal and rowing boat hire, botanical gardens, Japanese tea garden, a 10,000 seat sports stadium, lots of picnic areas, two dutch windmill, numerous lakes and footpaths, a herd of bison and we even came across a gaze of raccoons!

Free parking is available on Ocean Beach car park at the bottom end of the park (shuttle service operates between the free parking lot at Ocean Beach and major attractions within the park. The shuttle runs every 15 to 20 minutes from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays. Limited time parking can be found on many roadside locations in the park and on the outskirts. Underground paid parking is available at The Music Concourse on the north side of the park at 10th Avenue and Fulton Street. More paid parking is available at Kezar Stadium located near the Stanyan Street entrance to the park open all week and Millberry Union on Parnassus Street at weekends only.

Dutch Windmill Golden Gate Park
Dutch Windmill Golden Gate Park!
Lovely Footpath Walks in Golden Gate Park!

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