Our house sitting is now over for this season. Altogether we had 10 house sits including a 4month one for a repeat client in Ottawa.
Our 10th and last house, also a repeat, was in St. Catharines Ontario – only this time, the owners’ lost one of their beautiful dogs, Stanley, and added a new addition, Tucker who was only 11 weeks at the time and a companion to Sophie, when we arrived.
St. Catharines, Ontario
St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in Ontario. It boasts 96.13 square km of land and is situated 51 km south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and 19 km inland from the International boundary with the U.S. along the Niagara River.
It also has a nickname – The Garden City – because it has 4 km of parks, gardens and trails.
In 2016, the population was 133,113.
The area we stayed in was called Port Dalhousie (pronounced duh-LOO-zee) and has a lighthouse and pier and a very popular beach located at Lakeside Park.
When we house sat here last time it was during the Niagara Wine Festival and we took in the Montebello Park Wine & Culinary Experience and Centre Stage, bought a passport to a wine tasting tour (8 wineries), and checked out the Lakeside Park Carousel which has been beautifully restored and has 68 animals in all (including horses, lions, goats, camels and giraffes) and it cost only 5 cents a ride!
This time, though, we were a little ‘busy’ and decided to focus on our sit.
Meet the Family
It was wonderful to see Tom and Liza again. They are a fun couple, easy going and great conversationalists. They made us feel so welcome and treated us like friends and once again Tom cooked us a great meal for our first evening there, sharing wine and conversation with us.
We were well provisioned for, had an amazingly comfortable bed, and use of their awesome hot tub.
Sophie is a beautiful 7-year old golden retriever who is very gentle and loves attention. When she sat by my husband, she would lift her paw up on his thigh and waited patiently for him to pat her. She is very sedate on her walks and LOVES her treats!
Tucker, also a golden retriever, is the new addition to the family. At 11 weeks old, as you can imagine, he had loads of energy.
He is a gorgeous shade of golden brown while Sophie is much whiter in colouring. Sophie was like a patient aunt to him, allowing him to romp all over her, take her toys and sometimes not giving her any peace at all.
I am sure she loves every moment of it though since Stanley, her companion for a long time, passed on.
Because of Liza’s patience and training, Tucker could already sit, stay and come when told. Walking him was a bit of a challenge as he was so interested in everything – including the big leaves that were blowing off the trees. Everything was new and strange to him! To make it easier on both dogs, we walked them separately. Tucker is very smart and will do well in puppy school which was scheduled for when Tom and Liza returned from their trip.
Sophie and Tucker managed to get into a few escapades during our sit such as getting very muddy on a couple of occasions.
To share a little fun with our readers, we have added a conversation that we think Sophie and Tucker would have if they could talk to us humans and to each other.
Something is going on, as the ‘fill-in’ humans that have been staying with us for the past two weeks are busy on their computers and phones, sorting things, doing laundry, packing up their big suitcases, because my regular human beings will be home from their trip soon.
This is the second time these ‘fill-in’ humans have substituted for my humans who went on vacation but what makes this time different is that a little while before my humans left they introduced me to a new house mate, an 11-week-old golden retriever named Tucker. The ‘fill-in’ humans refer to him as ‘the new guy’ or ‘Mr.T’ as he’s taking over for my previous housemate Stanley, who departed after a long, productive life.
The ‘fill in’ humans affectionately and rightly refer to me as “Aunt Sophie” to Tucker, but goodness I’m so tired in the evening after spending a good portion of my day playing/guiding him on daily life, teaching him the canine skills that he needs to learn and apply to get his way with humans, that I hardly have time to myself anymore or to nap during the daylight hours.
Everyone knows that puppy school is really for our humans on how to communicate with us dogs, however, when a dog manages humans properly life is a lot easier for everyone. I’m good on the leash; it’s the humans that’ll need to learn how to try and manage Tucker. Here is what I’ve been working on with Tucker to ensure he’s up to speed.
Walk slowly all the time you’re in the house, so when you do get in trouble, you’re less likely to run away and you come off as looking less guilty.
Always turn your head or look away to the side when being scolded or reprimanded for something you apparently did.
Never roll your eyes up when being scolded by the humans, as it can be misinterpreted as a sign of not caring, and it does show that you’re hearing them.
When playing fetch in the back yard with your humans, get them to throw the ball at no higher than eye level. You accomplish this by merely sitting up, bending your head backwards for their first few attempts; if the humans can’t grasp the mechanics, just lie down and chew on a stick.
When the humans feed you, no matter how hungry you are, never run to your food bowl…take your time, and give them a look back before starting your meal…just to make sure they know they did their job.
When the humans are sitting on the couch watching TV you must put your head in their lap and just stare at them – stare at them for at least 15 seconds.
If #6 is unsuccessful, then place a paw on their leg quad muscle and gently pat it; if they don’t understand there’s something they need to do, such as feed you a forgotten treat, or a missed tummy rub appointment, then just back away, stare at them and pretend to sneeze.
After you’ve been outside for a while, upon entering don’t make eye contact with the humans, grumble a little, and go lie down, and of course in the kitchen when dinner is being prepared.
After you’re too big for your crate, establish a sleeping spot on the humans’ bedroom floor, but it must not be near the spot where I sleep – you cannot sleep there or too near to me….that is my spot; if you sleep too close to my spot, you‘ll be sorry.
Remember that our humans have not had a puppy in their house since me, so it’s a ‘re-learning’ process for them too, even though you don’t know it.
When something goes crash and we’re both nearby ….just look up, and since the humans are in their ‘questioning the suspects mode,’ just turn your head and look at the other dog.
When you dig holes in the backyard remember to lick your paws clean so the humans have less to towel off when you enter the house, otherwise they’ll give you a bath.
TUCKER AKA ‘MR. T.’
When I want to go outside for any of the three P’s – Play, Poop or Pee – I sit by the back door and bark…wait 15 seconds, then bark again – whining doesn’t do anything – just bark, bark, bark…the noise will be a constant reminder and my humans will be trained well once they respond on the first or second bark…but no more than two barks.
When I’m really bored I’ll pretend to go poop or pee in my bed, and then they’ll pick me up PRONTO and carry me outside!
Snow is cold…..but fun!
The ‘fill-in’ humans let me stay outside during the day when it was sunny and cooler so I could grow a heavier coat; that way I’ll be warmer in the winter time, as real dogs don’t wear doggy coats!
When out for walks during the winter time I always go poop in the snow so it’s easier for humans to see where I did my business; it hardens faster so it’s easier for humans to pick it up.
When out for walks I always go poop two or three times, so the humans remember to bring more than one doggy poop bag, otherwise they have to use their bare hands… (that’s so much fun to watch!)
I always dig holes in the backyard, especially when it’s been raining as the humans will towel me off at the door, then they’ll carry me into the bathtub, and rinse me with water…that way I get to run around and splash in the tub, drink the water from the faucet and go pee in the tub….no harm is done as the bath water goes away!
I give the humans lots of kisses and hugs, as they need to be reassured they’re doing the right things!
Now back to the ‘fill-in’ humans. We’re sad that they’re leaving as we were oh so, so close to getting them into our routines, and to react accordingly to our strategically used communication skills such as facial expressions, whines, patters, dances, and barking to get them up to speed.
Oh well……..next time!
I hope you enjoyed this article. We are now in Mexico for six months and will get back into house sitting when we return in May 2020.
Is house sitting something you have considered? If so, watch for an amazing Black Friday Deal coming soon!
Do you ever wonder what your pets are thinking, especially if they look at you a certain way? Let us know your experiences in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.
After our Mississauga sit we drove to Glammis to visit our daughter and family in their big home (built in the 1800’s), played with the new puppy Homer (a St. Bernard) and our 8-week old grandson, Quinn. The time went quickly and soon it was time to head to Caledon to care for two pets while the owners were off to New York for a long weekend.
This was my first visit to Caledon although we have been in Erin which is about 20 minutes away and has everything you could want including a bakery and a couple of vintage/antique stores.
Caledon is a town in the Regional Municipality of Peel in the Greater Toronto Area. It is primarily rural; its major urban centre is Bolton on the eastern side adjacent to York Region. At the northwest is the city of Brampton. Caledon is also the largest city or town by area in the Greater Toronto Area.
The opulation in 2016 was 66,502.
Meet the Family
Martina and Patrick were very gracious, friendly people who made sure we had everything we needed for our short stay.
Nestled on 15 acres, their location is stunning and we were lucky enough to be there during the height of autumn with the leaves turning orange, red, green and gold! A guest house, hot tub and pond completed the setting. For a winter house sit, the house is 5 minutes away from the Caledon Ski Club.
The home itself is a renovated Victorian farmhouse. There were comfy beds, fireplaces and all the amenities we needed to make our stay comfortable. Martina paints and sculpts and you can see her ‘pieces’ throughout the house, adding to the décor and giving it a ‘personal’ touch.
Since there were also laying hens, fresh eggs every morning were a bonus and Martina told us to make sure we took some with us when we left. Yum!!
Pets included two dogs, 5 laying hens and 2 budgies.
Milo is a 15-month old black Bouvier who loves being outside and checking everything out. Even though there are lots of trails and he is used to roaming on his own, we put him on his leash for long walks just to ensure he didn’t take off on us. Milo is very gentle and loves attention.
Lexie is a little 12-year old Yorkie girl who, apparently, tolerates Milo and doesn’t really like dogs. Maybe she thinks she is human?! She liked to go outside too but not as much as Milo. She had a couple of favourite snoozing spots and was quite content to hang out in them.
If Lexie and Milo could talk, we imagine the conversation going like this.
LEXIE & MILO
My name is Lexie and my housemate is Milo, who I merely tolerate as he’s still a young dog, only 15 months old, but he’s finally learning that I’m the Queen of this household. After all, I am 12 years old! He’s not bothering me as much as he used to when he was a puppy, but I tell him time and time again to stop being a P.I.T.A.
We live with our humans on a 15-acre rural lot, in Caledon Ontario; it’s a great place, with lots of walking trails, a big pond (we don’t swim in it but we do chase after our humans on it in the wintertime when it freezes over).
Our humans are in New York City to see a play and other cultural events…the ‘fill-in’ humans asked them if an NHL or NFL football game was on the agenda, but apparently not.
After our humans left, the ‘fill-in’ humans moved up from the guest house to sleep in one of the bedrooms in the main house, which our humans remodeled – they know what they’re doing as they own a construction company for custom-built homes in Southern Ontario, so our house is really nice!
I liked the ‘fill-in’ humans right away as they were around the house most of the time, except to pick up stuff in Erin Ontario. They cuddled with me and fluffed up my spots, and rubbed my tummy the first night they stayed in the house while sitting on the living room couch.
The ‘fill-in’ humans took us for lots of walks, gave us way more treats than what I was supposed to get, but it was so worth it! Actually, we went for three or four walks a day, which was nice, as without us the ‘fill-in’ humans would’ve been lost… or at least they’d be out for a long, long time.
At first, Milo was unsure of them, but he soon warmed up to them; he’ll explain to you in a bit. I also liked that I slept in my own space in my humans’ room while they were away, and slept so well, the ‘fill-in’ humans had to call me to go for my morning walk….imagine that!
Hello, my name is Milo and I’m a 15-month old black Bouvier, who is officially the second-in-command at our humans’ home, although the humans know better. I am a big dog, but still a puppy, so I am learning how to train my human.
The ‘fill-in’ humans were good to Lexie and I and the man human took me for many walks, at first on my telescopic leash as he was unsure if I’d run away.
After a couple of walks though we trusted each other and it was fun. We even went on a ten o’clock walk at night, as the sky was a clear, moonlit night, and it was easy to see around the paths.
Both ‘fill-in’ humans were nice to me – they gave me lots of pats and tummy rubs, and learned that when I sat in front of them and barked it meant that I needed to go outside to do my business. The ‘fill-in’ humans remembered that I loved to play toss and fetch with sticks – the man human found a fallen thick tree branch and cut it up into five separate sticks to run and fetch – we must have played fetch for a couple of hours each day. I was so exhausted in the evenings that I fell asleep behind the living room couch each night.
I noticed they helped with an unscheduled delivery of things needed by our humans’ son, so the man helped unload the truck, store it in the garage, and contacted the son to let him know it was there to be picked up.
Our humans’ kids dropped by throughout the weekend to pick up things, and meet the ‘fill-in’ humans, and they got along which was nice. Charlie brought his two dogs and we ran around for a while to ‘blow the stink off us’… and I got treats when I got back inside.
At first, I was skeptical of the ‘fill-in’ humans, but they were nice to us, took us for walks, brushed us and made sure we stuck to the rules.
I had to sleep in the front hall, which I didn’t mind as I could keep an eye on things. Even when the ‘fill- in’ humans used the hot tub late at night under the stars, I sat by the door waiting for them to come in.
The ‘fill-in’ humans cleaned out the chicken coop, which apparently was much smaller than the one he cleans out at the farmstead in Glammis Ontario; it has 16 hens, one rooster, and four turkeys, so it takes him longer to do, but he did a pretty good job.
I did miss my humans, and late Sunday afternoon the ‘fill-in’ humans’ who stayed with Lexie and I the past four days at our house, got busy on their computers and phones, sorting things, and packing up their suitcases. The ‘fill-in’ humans left in the late afternoon, and our regular humans were home from their trip a few hours later, just in time to take us out for a walk.
I think the ‘fill-in’ humans miss us, even though there are a 3-month-old old Saint Bernard and two cats at the farmhouse they’re going to. I’d like it if they visited us next year when they return from living in Mexico!
Bye for now!
Lexie & Milo
Even though this was a short house sit, we enjoyed every minute of it. We are winding down our house sits for the season, with one left in St. Catharines. If you would like to know how we come across these great sits, click here for more information.
Do you ever imagine what pets are thinking and what they would tell you if they could talk? Feel free to share your comments below.
After our 2.5 weeks sit in Don Mills, we headed to Mississauga to care for two tiny dogs, Maya and Twig. I think they were the smallest ones we had looked after so far.
Mississauga is a city in Canada and a suburb of Toronto which most likely accounts for its massive growth. Its population of 721,599 (2016) makes it one of the six most populous municipalities in Canada. The city has attracted a huge multicultural population and is where the Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada’s busiest, is located.
Mississauga means “[Those at the] Great River-mouth” and comes from the Anishinaabe (indigenous people) word Misi-zaaging.
Our house sit was close to the 401 and right of off the 407. It is a nice little area close to everything we needed.
Meet the Family
Craig and Jordan are super guys! They graciously invited us into their home trusting us to take care of their beloved pets while they were on a trip to western Canada.
We really loved their house and the comfort displayed throughout with its unique décor and wall hangings. It has a nice little fenced in backyard, big enough for a small garden, barbecuing or sitting out in the sunshine.
Everything was convenient and accessible, and sleeping in a king-size bed was a bonus! They also had great coffee machines!
Twig is 13 years old fellow and a cross between a Yorkshire and a Cockapoo (I dubbed him a “Yorkapoo!”)
He loved his walks, cuddling and treats!
TWIG CATCHING A SNOOZE
Maya is a sedate sweet little 8-year-old Yorkshire Terrier gal who loved sitting on the sofa near us as she was rather independent. She also loved walking and treats!
Maya and Twig got along well. They preferred being inside instead of their backyard but did like their walks.
Mealtimes were easy as they had access to their food and water whenever they wanted. Hard to believe they were so tiny and did not have excess weight!
They both loved bananas and since I have a smoothie every morning, I ended up sharing my bananas with them. They thought that it was cool!
MAYA SNUGGLED IN A BLANKET
Twig and Maya were very low maintenance and easy to care for. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this as a great house sit with terrific owners!
We hope you will take some time and read about our other house sits here.
If you think this something you would like to do, click on the photo below and get started. It is truly a rewarding experience, especially if you love animals, meeting new people, and checking out new places!
We would love to hear about your house sitting experiences or if you have any questions in the comment section below.
After Burlington, we made our way to Don Mills Toronto where our next house sit was for 3 older dogs. In spite of the medication required by all three dogs, this turned into a fun sit.
As you can imagine, Toronto is a very busy area with a population of just under three million in 2017. The area we were in was Don Mills (population over 25,000) – which happens to be where my husband grew up and went to school – and although it backed onto a busy street, it was a lovely area.
Don Mills was developed to be a self-supporting town and was located outside of Toronto proper until 1998 when it became part of Toronto proper. It is bounded by York Mills Road to the North, Canadian-Pacific Railway to the south, Leslie Street to the west (the street we backed on) and Don Valley Parkway to the east.
Meet The Family
Vicki and Barry are wonderful people to sit for. You could tell they loved their dogs dearly but we knew they felt comfortable with us taking over the reins while they travelled abroad. We had scheduled a meet and greet a few weeks before and the dogs remembered us.
Their home is large, beautiful and bright, very well maintained and sparkling clean. Our bed was extremely comfortable. Vicki and Barry provisioned us well with lots of food and beverages. They are truly a terrific couple.
Boomerang (sometimes called Boomer) is a 14-year-old Westie. You couldn’t help but love Boomerang. We never knew what to expect from him. For example, he would bark to go out, then as soon as the other two dogs followed him, he would turn around, come back in and head for the food dish. It was almost as if he was saying ‘haha, fooled ya!’
Although Boomer liked to come upstairs at bedtime, he had his favourite bed downstairs where he would sleep whenever the urge took him which was quite often or, sometimes he would just lean against a wall and have a little snooze – being older has its perks!
Boomerang Having A Snooze
Boomer required 3 different eye drops three times a day and he was an exceptional patient. I am sure he was wondering when this strange lady was going away so that his ‘mom’ could come back and do the drops the way he was used to getting them!
He also had pills that he got on certain days that were administered in his food.
Although he enjoyed his walks, there were times when one walk a day was enough for him and he was content to stay behind.
Kipper is also a Westie but a rescue and is 10 years old. He is spry and loved his walks stopping only long enough to sniff a tree, actually many trees, or do his business, often getting far ahead of Boomerang and Charcoal. He would gladly go out twice a day, more if you had a mind to take him. He only required a preventative eye drop once a day and was very good about it.
Kipper In His Favourite Spot
Kipper’s happy place to curl up was on the end of the sofa in the TV room.
Kipper Watching TV
He also had a ‘thing’ for TV – especially if there were dogs, other four legged creatures and even two-legged ones – getting very animated, vocal and up close. Sometimes, he would want to go behind the TV to see where these animals or people were.
On sunny days, Kipper and Boomer loved to hang out on the deck.
Kipper And Boomer Sunning On The Deck
Charcoal is a lovable 8-year old Shetland Sheepdog (Shelti) and was a favourite of my husband as he would curl up under the table where he was working and place his chin and paw on the rung of a chair, content to be close to him. He was also a rather quiet dog.
Charcoal Lying Under The Table
Charcoal also had regular medication, morning, noon and night, but never gave us any issues.
Where’s Our Food
Feeding time was interesting and a little hectic as we had to make sure each dog ate out of his own dish due to the medication that was in a couple of them. It was not unusual for Kipper to try to eat Boomer’s or Charcoal to try and eat Kipper’s. Barry had warned us about this so it certainly kept us on our toes!
Patiently Waiting For Breakfast
Exercise and Playtime
Vicki is a very patient owner and would lovingly play with the dogs in the morning and run them through a series of exercises to keep them limber and in shape. Before we left, she demonstrated the routine she put them through every day.
Unfortunately, they weren’t so keen to do this with us, however, they loved to romp and play with their toys and wrestle and would have great fun!
All three pets were excellent at going to bed, often giving us the eye around a certain time as if to say “ok, it’s bedtime, let’s go.” They all had their favourite sleeping spots upstairs, not far from us, and slept through the night.
Although Boomerang, Kipper and Charcoal required a fair bit of care, they were such good, well-behaved dogs it made our sit a lot easier. It is so much fun to see how three different dogs can interact and get along with one another and to see how much personality they actually have. Any pet owner will know what I mean.
It was wonderful to see Barry and Vicki on their return from their trip and how much their beloved pets missed them.
We were very surprised and touched when they presented us with a gift certificate to the Keg and a nice bottle of red wine.
We keep meeting such interesting and kind people and their beautiful pets. If this is something you would like to try, check this out. It might be just what you are looking for!
Have you any experience with house sitting? Was it good or bad? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below, whether you are the owner or sitter.