House Sitting With A Terrible Hitch

It isn’t a good idea to house and dog sit near London to combine free accommodation and sightseeing. Find out why!

We thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a house sit close to London. London is expensive and so, we’d be able to visit London without having to pay for accommodation. That’s what we figured but …

Vlou, the traveling Beagle, and Mrs Sheba, Pincher mixed-breed

what we didn’t take into account was:

  1. What seems to be close to London still takes almost an hour by train
  2. A single day trip in-out London costs about 24 £ per person if you can’t visit on subsequent days and find special deals.
But – that was not our main problem!

We arrived at our house sit and left Vlou, our traveling Beagle, in the car as we always do. Because he travels with us we arranged also with these home owners in advance, that we walk the dogs first on ‘neutral’ territory when we arrive so that the dogs get to know each other without getting protective about their home.

Roxy, Ridge back – Boxer mixed breed

There were actually two dogs we would care for during our house sit. A little Pincher and a  Rhodesian Ridge back – Boxer mix called Sheba and Roxy. The latter turned out to be so aggressive towards any other dogs that she immediately wanted to attack Vlou as soon as she saw him no matter if on neutral territory or not or if on a leash or not.  Even the smell of Vlou drove her crazy and she would run around and bark during our check-in.

Sheba, oldy but goldy

After a good nights sleep which Vlou had to spend in the car outside, we went for a walk in the nearby park. Vlou considers luckily our car as his home anyway. The owner took Roxy on a lead and walked in front of Vlou and me with a minimum of 50 meters distance. Despite the space and even though she’d never even got close to Vlou to meet, she tried to get off to attack him viciously.

But it was not only Vlou she tried to attack – it was any dog which came into sight!
Mrs Sheba all relaxed

We didn’t want to worry the house owners but we didn’t feel good about this house sit at all. There was so limited space in the townhouse that we’d be struggling to separate the dogs safely. Sheba was able to open the sliding doors anyway.

We tried to keep our spirits up till the family left their home cautiously confident to be able to make a plan afterwards somehow.
Roxy, the giant

Vlou had to stay upstairs in the bedroom when we were at home and Roxy had to stay downstairs in the living room-kitchen area.  We blocked the sliding door downstairs so that little Sheba wasn’t able to open it anymore and we built up a temporary wall with luggage on top of the stairs as backup. That was our luck as giant Roxy managed somehow to get through the sliding door anyway on the second day. What a shocker!

A professional dog trainer was supposed to walk Roxy twice in the week during our stay but she came only once unfortunately.
Mrs Sheba and Roxy in the back yard

We felt so bad for Roxy as we didn’t have to walk her because of her aggression on one side but on the other side we didn’t want to take the responsibility either. If she would have been able to escape, a disaster would have happened. She tended even to show aggression to people passing the house. Roxy was a young, well built dog full of energy which she couldn’t get rid of in the tiny town garden.

Not enough space for Roxy to get rid of all her energy
The thought she might find a way out of the flimsy fenced garden, didn’t make us feel comfortable.

As the day went on we got to love that huge clingy dog anyway, hoping for her that the owners find a solution for this unpleasant dangerous behaviour.

Question mark in Roxy’s face

It was for sure one of our yet most difficult dog sits we’d experienced. Very relieved for all of us when we could hand over the house back to the owners without any major discomforts but the daily mop up of accidents of old Sheba which wasn’t able to control her bladder anymore.

So what! Mrs Sheba doesn’t care if ‘it’ happens inside

We learned a lot during this house sit and certainly adjusted our questions for the home owner before admitting to a house sit with animals. In general we got the knack of:

Dog Sitting and City Sightseeing don’t work well in combination if you are not in the City Center to just stumble out of your door for some major attractions.

Our time span to enjoy the city center was too limited to be able to enjoy the visit.

A  fragile little dog with huge eyes and a brave heart, Mrs Sheba


Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

11 thoughts on “House Sitting With A Terrible Hitch”

  1. This sounds like an awful experience! I’m sure you will have a long list of added questions after such a bad experience. I felt bad for Vlou!

  2. I regularly have housesitters come to watch my dog and cat when we travel abroad. I’m very surprised by how the homeowner handled this arrangement. What was your discussion like before you arrived?

    For example, what did they say when you told them you were bringing your own dog? You told them in advance, I hope? I would never allow anyone to bring another animal into my home that wouldn’t agree to come at least one or two days before we left to allow time to introduce the pets while I am there. If the dogs didn’t get along, I would not agree to let that person stay.

    Similarly, we live about an hour from San Francisco city center and I would never agree to host anyone who wanted to head into the city every single day. That’s something I always ask. If it seems that someone is just looking for a “free place to stay near San Francisco,” that’s a red flag to me. Pet sitting is work and a serious responsibility–I hate seeing it touted as a way to travel for free.

    1. Hello Cassie, it’s great to hear from your perspective as a homeowner. We always write to the prospective homeowners that we arrive with our traveling Beagle and also mention it on our house sitter website and profile on Trusted Housesitters. In the dozens of house sits in the UK over the last six months, we had no problems with any other dogs and cats.

      The homeowners in this case hoped that we could introduce the dogs successfully before they had to leave. We arrived therefore two days early. Our attempts weren’t fruitful though. Obviously they didn’t have another option so short before they left and we neither.

      We totally agree with you that choosing house sitting if you’d like to explore the city every day wouldn’t be a good option if you care for dogs. The first responsibility is to look after the house and pets. But we don’t think one may not enjoy the area. Pet-Sitting is work in exchange for accommodation in our case. We don’t get paid. It’s a give and take which should hold balance.

  3. I have been fascinated that housesitting has become common. But, not having had pets all my life, I guess I will not be able to get the chance since most of those I read include pet-sitting. And then there are stories like this!

  4. Just as I was thinking, “Maybe we should look for a housesit to visit London” there was your post which definitely pointed out a downside to my idea! While most of our housesits have turned out to be great, we have our own “housit with a hitch” stories of a very old and sick dog in Costa Rica, the chicken that died and the cat who ran away for a few days! I love dogs but they require so much more attention so we usually look for housesits with a cat or two when we want to visit an interesting city. Loved your photos which made all of the dogs look so appealing! Anita

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