Tag Archives: leave no trace

10 Ways to Be a Great Pet and House Sitter

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Congratulations! You used some of my tips for getting a house and pet sitting job and you’ve been hired. Now you’re wondering what you can do to make a great impression, get a good reference from the homeowner, and maybe even get asked back next time the people go out of town. Here are ten tips for setting yourself apart from the house sitting crowd.

Person in Brown Cable Knife Sweater Holding White and Black Puppy#1 Make the pets your top priority. This should go without saying, but I frequently hear stories of people coming home to pets who have been mostly ignored by the pet sitter. Care for the pets exactly as instructed. Feed them on schedule and make sure they always have plenty of water. Walk them as often as you’re supposed to, at the times that are normal for them. Give the pets plenty of love and attention.

Pet owners don’t want to come home to pets that are stressed out. Pet owners hire people to stay with the pets in the home so the routine of the animals is not disrupted. Pet owners want to come home to pets who are behaving as if the owners never left.

#2 If possible, check in with the home owner frequently. Let the homeowner know all is well. Send photos of the pets through Facebook, text, or email. A photo of the cat curled up on your lap or the dog sitting next to you will go a long way to let the homeowner know the critter is content.

#3 Don’t have any parties. In fact, don’t have anyone over who might break anything or disrupt the household, Yellow, Pink, and Blue Party Balloonseither by accident or on purpose.

#4 Stay on the good side of the neighbors. Play your music so it can’t be heard outside the house. Pick up any messes the dog in your care leaves on the neighbor’s lawn. Don’t park in the neighbor’s spot, even if it’s on-street parking and you can legally park wherever you want. If there’s an emergency, you want the neighbors on your side. You don’t want the neighbors saying anything negative about you to the homeowner for whom you’re working.

#5 Use the utilities conservatively. Yes, the homeowner expects you to use water and electricity and propane if that’s what powers the stove, but that doesn’t mean you should go hog-wild. Use the utilities as if you were paying for them. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Make sure you don’t leave the faucet dripping. Don’t take 30 minute showers.

White Toilet Paper#6 Don’t use up all the supplies. Again, the homeowner expects you to use some things, but no one wants to come home from vacation and find there’s not a sheet of toilet paper in the house. Don’t leave the homeowner without toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, dish washing liquid, hand soap, or shampoo. Either bring in your own or replace any supply you’ve used up.

#7 ‘Fess up if you break anything. Homeowners have been very understanding when I’ve confessed to breaking drinking glasses and cereal bowls. To save yourself grief, be extra careful with anything you know or suspect is expensive. Better yet, don’t touch anything fancy.

#8 Use coasters and don’t use candles. I got these two bits of advice from a very wise woman who’d been house sitting for years. She learned the hard way how nerve-wracking it is to run around on the day before the homeowner returns trying to remove water stains from the coffee table or scrape candle wax from the nightstand.Two Pillar Candles

#9 Alert the homeowner to any change of plans as soon as possible. My dad died while I was house sitting. As soon as I found out when the service was being held, I called the homeowner and let him know my situation. He was very understanding and planned to return home the night of the day I had to leave.  The dogs only had to be alone for a few hours, and the homeowner told me how to set up the backdoor so they could get into the backyard as necessary.

#10 Before you leave, clean up after yourself. I take a “leave no trace” attitude when I’m getting ready to go.

Vacuum the floors. Wash and put away any dishes or pots and pans you used. Wipe the counters. Wash, dry, fold, and put away any towels you used. Wash the sheets you slept on and remake the bed. Make sure the kitchen and bathroom sinks, bathtub, shower, and toilets are clean. Take all of your belongings with you.

Leave the house in good condition so the homeowner would be to ask you back.

Blaize Sun has been house and pet sitting since 2012. She’s mostly sat with dogs, but has had an occasional cat client. She appreciates all the people who have allowed her to exchange her time and energy for a stay in their home.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-in-brown-cable-knife-sweater-holding-white-and-black-puppy-129634/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/yellow-pink-and-blue-party-balloons-796606/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-toilet-paper-191845/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-pillar-candles-754062/.

 

Roadside Table

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Milepost 55

Previously, I wrote about the Gunsight Wash BLM camping area. I explained that Gunsight Wash is located on Arizona Highway 85, just past milepost 55, across the highway from a roadside table. Now I am going to write about the roadside table.

First of all, I think the term roadside table is unappealing. I understand not calling it a rest area. When people in cars see rest area, they think restroom. It would be cruel to call this spot a rest area because there is not a restroom here, not a pit toilet, not a porta-john. But roadside table sounds so bleak to me, probably because I imagine a lonely table stuck by the side of the road. Why can’t we call it a picnic area? Picnic area sounds so cheerful. Doesn’t everyone like a picnic, especially when there’s a table involved?

Secondly, there is not just one table in this picnic area. Oh, no. There are two tables in this picnic area. To be accurate, the sign should read roadside tables.

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Roadside tables, trees, and trashcan

There’s more than just a couple of tables going on here. There are also trash cans and trees. Trees are a pretty big deal in the desert. I think the area could get some attention if the sign read, Roadside Trees.

There’s also a sign in the picnic area which makes it pretty clear that people are not supposed to camp here with the IMG_5674roadside tables and the trees. I wonder why the sign doesn’t direct wanna-be campers to the BLM land of free camping across the street?

The trashcans at the picnic area are a bit controversial. I read a couple of notices on the sign board across the road on the BLM land and learned a few things. The roadside table/picnic area is managed by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). ADOT is responsible for hauling away the trash left in the trashcans at the picnic area. ADOT does not want pesky BLM campers crossing the highway and leaving their trash in the ADOT trashcans. It sounds like when trash generated in the BLM area is left in the ADOT  trashcans, ADOT is ready to declare all-out turf war. I know I’m making light of the situation, but disposing of trash really is serious, people. If there are no trashcans where you camp, pack that trash OUT!

One part of the deal with your trash notice at Gunsight Wash that caught my attention was where it said the workers who remove the trash from the ADOT roadside table area have expressed disgust at some of the things filthy BLM campers have crossed the road to leave in pristine ADOT trashcans. Items mentioned were jugs of urine and used motor oil. Jugs of urine? Jugs? Who’s out there with jugs of urine? Are we talking one gallon jugs? Five gallon jugs? I pee a lot, but I never have to dispose of jugs of urine. If you’re out in nature, people, discreetly sprinkle your urine on the outskirts of your camp (not in the same spot every time). And while I suppose some do-it-yourself types will change their oil while boondocking, is an Exxon Valdez amount really being dumped in ADOT trash cans? Who are these ADOT workers who are disgusted by urine and motor oil? Perhaps if such things make one squeamish, one should have a job which does not involve emptying trash cans.

The final interesting aspect of the roadside table/picnic area is what I can only guess is a gate to let people pass in and out of the area, but exclude cattle. IMG_5675If that is what the contraption is for, I suppose it was doing its job, as I saw no bovines picnicking at the roadside tables.

I took all of the photos in the post.