How does free accommodation sound to you? Too good to be true? What about if that accommodation isn’t a hotel room, instead your own private house? Now you know it can’t be true… Surely, how could that be possible?!
I am not bullsh**ting you.
Let me let you in a secret, house sitting makes this possible.
You can thank me later.
We first heard about house sitting when we were working in the Hunter Valley. Our boss Jenny not only gave us work but helped us with so many things – including putting us in touch with a friend of hers about to head to the states for 6 weeks and needed her property looked after. After sleeping in a tent for 6 weeks, a roof over our heads sounded like luxury. Did I forget to mention the property was a gorgeous wooden farm house sat on 140 acres? The only catch was we would have to look after the 16 horses, 7 cows, dog and cat. We are both animal lovers, so rather than that turning us off the idea it made us even more excited to accept!
After living in our tent for 6 weeks and our car for a month before that, we very quickly got used to the luxuries of a bath, oven and a comfy bed! The added bonus was daily cuddles from the gorgeous border collie, Max that we were looking after. During our travels, we have found that dogs aren’t treated as one of the family quite like we do back home in the UK. For example, pets not being allowed in the house and having to live outside is something I find quite hard to get used to.
I’m used to my dog Boo laying with me on the sofa at home while we watch TV together, and feel a huge amount of guilt when she gets put outside to go to the toilet and then 5 minutes later hear her nudging the back door because she wants to be back in with you, so it was a tough thought to get used to poor Max sleeping outside. Especially because it was the winter (believe it or not, Australia does have a pretty cold winter). Thankfully, we were told as long as he was washed regularly and not allowed up on the sofas, he could come in.
It took about a week for Max to get used to us and the new routine. He was slightly concerned when we let him in the house, as though he was waiting to be told off and to go back outside. He very quickly got used to it though and loved his evenings curled up by the fire! On our first morning, we got ready to feed and check on the 16 hungry haflingers and automatically expected Max to follow – what dog do you know doesn’t get over excited at any mention of walkies?! But he didn’t! It took a lot of persuasion for him to finally follow us.
After a week or so, our routine finally fell into place, getting up at around 6.30 am, get ready for work, feed the horses and making sure Max was with us to get his exercise. It didn’t take long for him to get used to it either. After a while, he would actually stand by the door waiting for us to be ready for our walk! We saw such an amazing difference from when we arrived to when we left, a dog who was pretty shy that would just lay outside only moving to go to the toilet, to this bouncy dog who couldn’t contain his excitement for his morning walk. We were so sad when we left, we really became quite attached to him!
During our 6 weeks, we were making plans to head to Sydney. The biggest obstacle we had when planning that trip was trying to find a hostel with parking. Impossible. So, we decided to have a look online for house sits in Sydney. That’s when we came across Trusted House Sitters. To our surprise, we found so many sits available but one in particular caught our eye. A lovely leonberger needing a dog loving house sitter. If you don’t know what a leonberger looks like, be prepared to be amazed. I knew as soon as I saw the photo of Louie on the ad I wanted to sit on that house!
To join Trusted House Sitters there is a £129 membership fee but that covers you for a whole year. A hostel in Sydney would have cost us more than that for a week, so it was totally worth us signing up and paying the fee even if we only bagged this one house sit for the whole year. We applied for a few – as people say, it’s better to not place your eggs all in one basket. I really wanted to look after Louie, but it was very likely so did a hell of a lot of other people!
We got lucky. The leonberger and his 5-bedroom modern home in Sydney were ours for 17 days! We were so excited!
After what felt like ages, our wait was over. The day arrived to meet Louie and his lovely family who made us feel so at home – we arrived a day before they left so they could show us the usual routines and allow us to ask any questions.
Despite the fact that I love dogs and grew up with 3 large furry friends, when I first saw Louie and realised how big he actually was I was a little freaked out. Still being a (very large) baby at just over a year, he was very playful and jumped up. He was taller than me and nearly knocked me over! After about an hour, I was used to his size and fell in love! He was a gentle giant, who wanted nothing but to play and have your full attention.
It was the perfect house sit, we were in a great location to explore Sydney but far enough away from the city for it to be relaxed. Louie was great, he would be quite happy to fill up the back of the car and come on a little adventure with us whether it be to the beach or to explore an old, haunted railway tunnel!
We are now both nearly 100% sure that we want to have a leonberger if and when we get a dog – the only thing putting us off that is the cost of feeding them the 1kg of meat per day like Louie would get! Happy heart, sad bank balance!
If you are interested in signing up for Trusted House Sitters, click the photo below and receive 4 months for free! It is an affiliate link which won’t cost you anything, but it will help us put food on the table as we get a small amount of commission (like 4p but every little helps!) …
Jess is the beating heart for Ben and Jess’s Adventures, she allows everything to flow the way it should. Unlike Ben, Jess is scared of most things and thinks that everything is going to kill her… However she still thinks that ‘adventure’ is her middle name. Jess is definitely the sensible one, that will think ahead and be realistic, unlike the other half of this dynamic duo !