Well, my first European house/pet sit is now complete and I’m back in London. I can’t believe how quickly it went! I can now safely say I was a bit hesitant about it – what was I thinking agreeing to look after 4 dogs and 5 cats alone? But it went so well, I’m very happy I said yes.

There’s so much to talk about for this week, I think I’ll need a few posts to get it all in. Right now, I want to focus on my physical day – the dogs all had their own individual personalities, some good and some evil, but all entertaining. And later I’ll talk about the fabulous places I visited and the things I’ve seen and perhaps a little about the food.

The week couldn’t have gone any better – well, I perhaps could have done without Reo (a Chocolate Lab and the sweetest dog) and Benny (a Heinz 57 – that is to say a Greek street dog with a mixed and unknown heritage) rolling in cow poo (or Benny doing it AGAIN the next day since he sooo enjoyed it the first time, thank you very much!) or Benny and Koko (a Bull Terrier) fighting over the dead rabbit carcass OR Tali (the little ginger and white cat) chasing a live mouse around the bedroom. But other than that, it went swimmingly!

Sasha and Stuart were kind enough to allow me to borrow their car to take the dogs to Martin Down National Nature Reserve. I was incredibly grateful, because Koko is an incessant puller on-leash. To be able to drive her to an off-leash area every day was a blessing.

One of the biggest challenges was showing them all enough love. Usually Koko won; I’m not sure if it’s because she’s the oldest or simply the bossiest, but she certainly lives up to the Bull part of her breed. However her methods, the result was usually her winning the place in my lap and there was little any one of us could do about it!

Each day was different but they all started with a warning bark from the utility room around 0700. Willow (what the British call a Lurcher – a mixture of Greyhound and other breeds but a character; he’s also a rescue) would give the wake up call and woe be you if you ignored it! One morning I came down but didn’t leave the back door into the garden open as I usually did. I’m not sure if he just chose not to pee or if he was trying to get my attention, but not being able to get outside (keep in mind, the backdoor had JUST been open with plenty of opportunity to go) Willow decided to empty his (what seemed to be full) bladder on the floor in the dining room. Brat. And to add insult to injury, when I forgot to retrieve the paper towel from the floor after cleaning up, he brought it into the living room and proceeded to rip most of the new roll to shreds. Bloody brat!

The stampede out to pee was followed by breakfast for them and an attempt at a peaceful cup of coffee in the sunshine under a lovely pergola in the garden (for us North Americans, “the garden” often means the backyard. While there are often flowerbeds and shrubs/trees, etc. it doesn’t always mean an official “garden”). Koko usually ended up in my lap, as per reference above, straining and contorting to get at least a tiny little sip of coffee before a strong reprimand and a threat that she’d have to get down if she continued. Reo would often join us in our quiet time. Benny, the loner, would be resting on the living room couch, (waking up is incredibly exhausting!) and Willow would be silently plotting some kind of havoc.

The daily hour-long walk in the reserve always held adventure. I needed to keep a sharp eye out on the dogs’ proximity to the sheep that grazed there, trying to give them at least a field-wide buffer. Although the reserve is open to dogs, you need to keep them in sight and make sure they aren’t bothering the cows, sheep or nesting birds. It’s a beautiful walk and the locals are very lucky to have the space. Sasha thoughtfully bought me a whistle, which actually worked very well. Two short blasts and the dogs usually fell in line. The majority of people (mostly dog walkers, hikers or birders) were surprisingly good about four dogs approaching them at breakneck speed. The dogs didn’t growl or bark, although I did warn “even though there are a lot of them, they are friendly.” And it usually wasn’t a problem. A bum sniff, a quick hello and then mine were off again, quite content.

Afternoons were all different – whether it was reading in the garden, napping on the lounger in the sun or wandering some small town or countryside. The evenings were mostly spent watching a bit of telly and lights out at 11 p.m.

Before retiring for the night, the dogs went out for one last pee. If the night was clear, you could see millions of stars. Because there are no streetlights in Tarrant Hinton, the stargazing was phenomenal. I downloaded SkyView for my iPhone and I like how it fills in the full constellation, even if only one star is visible. Although I know some of the more common ones, it was very cool to see the others that I have never seen before.

That’s the beauty of my World Tour 2016. I want to learn new things, have different experiences and see unique places. Dorset and the south of England was an amazing start and it set the bar quite high. I can’t wait to see what happens next!


I belong to an organization called Trusted Housesitters, which matches homeowners who need someone to look after their pets (generally) and their homes while they are away. Most housesitters do it for free accommodations, but some charge a fee. There are other strictly housesitting services (i.e. no pets) but I don’t know anything about them. This is not for everyone but if you love animals, it’s a great way to travel cheaply, meet new people and get animal love while you’re away from home.

The dog days of (late) summer

Dogs waiting for treats

Since you're already here...

Why not do a thing? You could do lots of things, but while you’re on this site, the bestest thing you could do for yourself ever is to learn how my writing best suits you!