Dairy of a Pet Sitting

It is time to start to share the wonderful diary of our published author Margo and so to ….

dog on welcome mat

Beginnings

It is a question I have been asked numerous times – why did you start pet sitting? 

The truth is that it really happened almost by accident.  In fairness, the idea had been in my head for many years as something I might like to do if I ever had time but is was truly no more than a daydream notion as the real world of full time working ground on.  However, in later years, after a major midlife crisis for my husband and I which saw us leave our secure jobs, sell our house and buy a hotel in the West of Scotland – a tale for another time – our working life paths changed and took us off in a number of unexpected directions, culminating in us buying a holiday lettings business in Argyll and managing a portfolio of holiday homes on behalf of their absentee owners.  We ran this business very successfully for almost 10 years, employing three local ladies, to assist us in our hectic Saturday turnarounds when all the properties due out for holiday lets later that day had to be cleaned and made up in a very narrow time window.  Saturdays were always a flurry of cleaning, organisation and meticulous planning to ensure that everything was ready for the guests coming in eager to start their much-anticipated holiday.  Once everyone was happily settled into their holiday home, we then set about the task of turning the mountains of laundry around for the next changeover day.  Sunday was “feed the machines” day to get everything washed and, hopefully, dried either out on lines or through the tumble driers and then Monday to Thursday was ironing – a lot of ironing! I managed this whilst my husband ensured that all repairs were completed and dealt with any problems that cropped up.

Time moves on and the very thing that made our business successful – the internet – where our website advertised the properties and took the bookings for the holiday clients slowly but surely introduced our downfall – Air B & B.  The advent of this worldwide booking platform rendered us almost redundant within 2 years as more and more of our owners could use this method of attracting holidaymakers to their property and cut out the need for us and the commission we charged for managing their properties for them.  All they need to do was find a cleaner to do the turnarounds for them so gradually we started to lose properties and our fate was sealed – or was it?

We had been finding the rigour of the business an increasing burden as we were getting older and, now 60 and 62, we decided to call it a day and wind the business down, sell up and move closer to family back in Cumbria.  So that’s what we did and we now live very happily in the Eden Valley in Cumbria.

Throughout our time running the holiday business which, by its very nature, was very seasonal, we had worked abroad over the winter months from October to April.  We had skippered a 50 ft yacht in the Caribbean for 2 winters – my husband is an ocean yacht master – and run ski chalets in France and Switzerland for another 4 winters – so, as the holiday business wound itself to its inevitable death, that was when my pet sitting notion gradually took root in my mind and set my fingers looking across the internet to see if it was a viable possibility.

I found out it was indeed and that there were many players in the game.  I spent a lot of time researching the various companies, having decided that, after many years of self-employment, I wanted to be an employee and have all the protection, organisation and insurance that would come with it.  I was getting older and my idea was just something to fill a couple of weeks every couple of months to add a bit to the pension pots and keep me busy.  I whittled the choice of company down to two and set about applying to join them as a sitter.  One company was more house sitting based whilst the other was much more focused on the pet aspect and that is the company I went for and put myself through their most rigorous vetting procedures and interviews.

So now here I am, almost five years on, a registered pet and house sitter and my little part time couple of weeks every couple of months job keeps me very busy indeed.  I travel the length and breadth of the country and have a portfolio of wonderful clients that I regularly sit for throughout the year.  I have met so many interesting people, been to innumerable fascinating places that I simply didn’t know existed and have met so many wonderful, funny, boisterous and hilarious dogs, cats and other pets on my travels that I decided to write this diary and share some of my best stories with you all.

I should at this point add that, in addition to having been bought up with dogs, my husband and I have bred and trained working Labradors for many years as a hobby.   I also completed all my British Horse Society examinations in my early 20’s and was a registered riding instructor, running several riding schools and worked in a point to point yard with racing and breeding stock.

I hope you like them and find them as entertaining as I have.  All are true.  All events really have happened.  I have changed the location details and names of all the participants concerned to protect the guilty but I have kept the details of breeds true as those who are familiar with the particular breeds concerned in each story will get additional enjoyment as they will, I hope,be able to relate the tales to their own pets.

I hope you enjoy my dairy

Margo