Have pets, won’t travel’ is the reality for many people. Many pet owners never travel from home for more than a few days because the usual care options just don’t work for them. Asking a family member or friend to take your pets is often a favor you can’t ask for regularly. Kennels are not an option for most pet owners, who simply won’t subject their loved ones to a caged stay of any duration. Bringing pets along for travel is often not realistic for many pet owners, especially when there are old, large, or multiple pets involved.
The main problem with most care options is that they require the animals to be taken out of their home environment and daily routines. Being cared for by strangers is not usually a problem for animals, but it can be when it is also in a strange place (not home). Being in a strange environment is often stressful for animals when they are separated from their human family for several weeks or months.
I recently asked an animal expert for her view on the topic. “Dogs are creatures of habit and are generally very emotionally connected to their 'social group' (i.e. their people),” says Francine Miller, a canine behavior specialist in San Diego, CA. “It is always preferable to keep them in their home environment and in their normal routine to minimize stress.”
There is also the stress, worry, or guilt experienced by the pet owners when they leave their pets. People want the best for their pets and they don’t want their vacations to become guilt trips.
Fortunately, a growing number of pet owners are discovering the advantages of having pet-loving house sitters stay in their home while they travel. Having house sitters (the non-paid kind) care for you pets and home is really an ideal solution for pet owners, their pets, and the sitters, who are often pet owners themselves on vacation or retirement travel. Sitters care for homes, pets, and even larger animals such as horses and llamas. Sometimes they care for injured or dying pets and help avert robberies or home disasters related to gas leaks, power outages, etc.
The number of house sitting companies/websites has grown rapidly in recent years as pet owners look for better solutions and travelers seek richer experiences with lower costs. It’s a global and growing trend that is changing how many people travel and make new friends.
“I would not be able to travel if I had no-one to come to my home to care for my pets,” wrote Rosalie Guttman of Chicago. “My cats have never been out of the house and one is claustrophobic and cannot be in a cage. I've seen animals left in kennels and they don't look very happy."
“We have not put our two pets in a kennel for many years,” wrote Nancy and Jerry Kamens of Arlington, Virginia, who now use house sitters. “Our dog does much better at home in familiar surroundings.”
“Cats are very territorial and taking them away from their home is rather distressing to them,” wrote Silvia Mariani, who lives in London, England. “Even a short trip to the vet becomes an ordeal, let alone separating them from their home for days or weeks.”
As I have heard from many pet owners, Silvia adds that she has remained friends with many sitters around the world. “I've also been invited to stay at their places - all this makes house sitting a more personal, rewarding experience.”
These pet owners shared their experiences as part of a survey I recently conducted of the nearly 50,000 home owners registered on my housesitting website, www.housecarers.com. Here is a fact that gives an idea of how large and global house sitting has become: in the past year, my members have posted sitting opportunities in at least 64 countries. The most popular countries for house sitting in order are the U.S., Australia, Canada, the UK, France, New Zealand, Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Italy, and South Africa. The popularity of housesitting is growing rapidly and the demand for house sits is often greater than the supply. Many house sitting websites have popped up in recent years, but the key is to create a secure environment for both parties to make a personalized match. There are sitters who are paid for their help, but the growth is happening in the non-paid type. House/pet sitters on sites like mine receive no money for caring for homes and pets – they receive only accommodation. Housesitting is all about mutual benefit. And making new friends around the world.
Author bio --- Ian White is the founder and owner of www.housecarers.com , which has matched thousands of house sitters with homeowners worldwide since October, 2000. HouseCarers was launched in recognition of the need to provide a secure environment where homeowners can locate a reliable house sitter and sitters can achieve their financial and housing goals.