House Sitting: An Emotional Rollercoaster of Joy, Tears and Laughter

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We love house sitting; it’s a budget-saver and allows us to cherish priceless moments with pets. Being on the road since 2017 means having our own pets isn’t an option, so these cuddly interludes are true treasures.

And you may be surprised at how many bring me to tears.

Read on to discover the heartfelt joys, the unexpected sorrows, and the unforgettable times that shape our experiences—and why we’ll continue, nonetheless.

shelley with a ginger long aired cat on her back while she kneels and a tabby cay sat beside her
Anytime, anywhere, Red was always up for a snuggle! ©Lifejourney4two
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A Journey Through Our Most Memorable House Sits

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of caring for various pets, each bringing their unique charm and challenges. These experiences have been a mix of joy, sorrow, and plenty of laughter.

Join me as I recount some of our most unforgettable house-sitting adventures, starting with Teddy, a little dog who deeply touched our hearts in Western Australia.

Then, we’ll move on to the regal cats of the Dordogne, the lovable antics of Archie, the unexpected journey with Maggie and Murphy in South Africa, and finally, a hilarious sheep escapade in the Cotswolds, UK.

Not only have these experiences enriched our lives with incredible bonds and unforgettable memories, but they have also been a substantial boon to our finances.

💰 For more on how house sitting has allowed us to explore the world more affordably. We’ve saved over $100,000! Read our insights on how house sitting saves us money here.

house-sitting-Murphy-on-shelleys-lap while she is on the phone
Murphy doesn’t mind that I’m busy on my phone 🙂 ©Lifejourney4two

🐾 Join TrustedHouseSitters here as either a sitter or as a pet owner – Use our code LIFEJOURNEY25 for 25% off

Teddy: Joy and Heartbreak

Our most recent house sit in Western Australia introduced us to Teddy, a ten-year-old Maltese and Cavalier King Charles cross.

This fluffy bundle of joy bonded with us quickly. He often perched himself at my feet while I worked on my laptop or shadowed Lars in the kitchen hoping to snag a little chicken treat.

Teddy - a small white maltese cross dog looking at the camera
Teddy – a fluffy bundle of love ©Lifejourney4two

Cherished Routines

Daily walks with Teddy alternated between the local football oval and the beach, but it was clear he had a special affection for the seaside. He enjoyed the ever-changing smells of the incoming tides, and his excitement as he bounded along the shore was infectious.

Housesitting-Teddy-on-beach small dog near grass and sand

A Frightening Turn

Towards the end of our two-month stay, a normal day turned alarming. While enjoying his usual frolic in the grass at the oval, Teddy suddenly went stiff and passed out.

Heart pounding, we rushed him to a nearby vet, where a heart murmur was detected. Further tests revealed he was in the final stages of heart degeneration, with perhaps only a month left to live.

Small white dog with a red collar running on grass
Teddy in his happy zone ©Lifejourney4two

An Emotional Farewell

The news devastated his owners, who flew back from overseas immediately to spend as much time as possible with him. While they arranged an international flight back home, our remaining days with him were bittersweet.

Teddy still displayed bursts of his old energy, looking at me intently each morning and eagerly anticipating his walk—his favourite part of the day. It was heart-wrenching to manage his expectations and gently refrain from throwing his beloved toy around the house.

Knowing he would never again run with the wind in his fur along the beach added a layer of sorrow to our final days together.

Housesitting Teddy - small white fluffy dog running on the sand with ears flapping
Teddy loved his runs on the beach ©Lifejourney4two

A Tough Reality

The emotional weight of Teddy’s diagnosis extended beyond our own attachment to him, impacting his devoted owners deeply. They now faced the heartbreaking possibility of a painful decline for Teddy and the agonising decision that might follow when his condition worsened.

It’s a burden no pet owner ever wants to face, yet one that many inevitably do.

Parting with Tears

My farewell was drenched in tears—tears for Teddy, whose vibrant spirit was overshadowed by his failing health; tears for his owners, who returned home to the prospect of soon losing their cherished companion; and tears for having to say goodbye.

Each house-sit leaves its own unique mark, but this one with Teddy saying goodbye, was especially difficult.

Teddy - a small white dog on the beach in front of some grass and purple flowers
Teddy at one of his favourite places ©Lifejourney4two

Rouge, Red, and Bertie: Lords of the Manor

In the heart of France’s Dordogne region, our nine-month house-sit brought us into the lives of three gorgeous cats, each ruling over the chateau grounds with their unique personalities.

Living in the area meant we could explore many of the beautiful Dordogne villages and fulfil a lifelong dream of immersing myself in French Village life.

three cats sat outside - two laid down on a wall and one on the peagravel on the ground- one is tabby colour the other two are ginger, one long haired, one short haired
Bertie, Red and Rougie on the grounds of a French Chateau ©Lifejourney4two

A Trio of Characters

Red, the long-haired male of the pair, loved affection to the extent that he would drape himself around your neck like a warm scarf, seeking cuddles at every turn.

Red - a long haired ginger cat sat on a wall by a pot of white tulips
Smoocher and all-round snuggler, Red ©Lifejourney4two

His sister, Rouge, short-haired and petite, was a diligent huntress. Known affectionately as Rougie, she took pride in controlling the mouse population. She often presented us with her trophies right at the doorstep—and sometimes, to our dismay, right into our living room.

Small ginger and white cat sat on a wall
Rougie, the smallest but the little workhorse of the three! ©Lifejourney4two
Rouge and Red on Shelleys lap while she is working on her laptop
Red and Rouge snuggle while I keep working 🙂 ©Lifejourney4two

Bertie, the eldest at the ripe old age of eighteen, was a fine old gentleman born on the chateau grounds. Despite his grumpy demeanour due to arthritic hips, he held a regal presence.

Initially aloof, Bertie and I developed a deep bond. Each night, as soon as I settled into bed, he would head straight over to the bed to snuggle on my chest, purring like an engine, tucked comfortably under my neck.

Bertie the tabby cat wearing a black collar and a flower in the photo
Bertie, the old Lord of the Manor ©Lifejourney4two

Heartrending Goodbyes

After such a lengthy stay of nine months, leaving felt like leaving my own pets. On our final day, Bertie was nowhere to be found, which only intensified my flood of tears as Lars drove us away.

Though the shorter house sits are meaningful, longer ones, like this one, carve a permanent niche in your heart.

A few days after we left, Bertie was found, but his health was in slow decline. Weeks later, we received the heart-wrenching news of his passing. While more tears flowed, we took solace in knowing Bertie had lived a dignified life as the true Lord of the Manor.

Bertie - the tabby cat sat on a wall in front of the chateau
Bertie lording it over the chateau and its grounds ©Lifejourney4two
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Archie: A Bundle of Joy and Full of Life

Another housesitting journey in Western Australia brought us to a vivacious one-year-old mini Australian Shepherd named Archie, who captured our hearts with his boundless energy and loving nature.

He was everyone’s friend and loved being near us. He often interrupted our laptop work with his favourite toys, eager for a game of catch. Despite the distractions, this lovable pooch made it impossible to mind the interruptions.

Archie, a black and white dog with a touch of brown on one paw running on grass
Archie and his boundless puppy energy ©Lifejourney4two

Archie also had a few quirks that made him even more endearing. He loved watching TV, with “The Dog House” being his absolute favourite show. Seeing him so engrossed in the antics of other dogs on the screen was hilarious.

Archie the black and white dog staring straight ahead - he was watching the tv
Archie engrossed in the ‘Dog House’ TV show ©Lifejourney4two

And then there was his fondness for the cat’s bed, which was far too small for him, but he didn’t seem to care. He would squeeze himself into it, creating an adorably awkward sight.

Archie the black and white dog stetched out over the cat bed which is too small
Just a little overlap, hey Arch! ©Lifejourney4two

Unexpected Nighttime Adventures

Archie’s usual happy-go-lucky attitude took a turn one evening when Lars was away. Normally, Archie didn’t ask to go out at night, but this time, he seemed uneasy and asked repeatedly.

Following him outside on the third request, I discovered why: he was suffering from diarrhea. In a moment of compassion, considering he was clearly unwell, I allowed him onto the bed—a place usually off-limits.

Only later, in the dim light, I realized he was covered in poo, from his fluffy tail to his back end.

A Night to Remember

A late-night dog bath followed, complete with bed stripping and some impromptu fur trimming—tasks I hadn’t anticipated for the wee hours. The next day, Archie’s condition worsened to vomiting and lethargy, prompting an urgent vet visit.

Thankfully, after a few days of care, he bounced back to his cheerful self. Still, the ordeal was a stark reminder of the responsibilities of caring for someone else’s beloved pet, especially in the owner’s absence.

Archie the black and white dog pulling on a blue rope toy
Archie loved playing with his toys ©Lifejourney4two

Heartfelt Goodbyes and Joyful Reunions

After two joy-filled but eventful months, the inevitable goodbye was as tearful as one might expect. Driving away, I couldn’t help but shed tears for the little dog who had so quickly become a big part of our lives. However, the story didn’t end there.

Four months later, we revisited Archie, and the reunion was nothing short of magical. He remembered us instantly, alternating between Lars and me, unable to decide who to shower with more affection. His squeals of joy and enthusiastic tail wags made it clear that we had indeed captured a piece of his heart as he had ours.

That was Archie—his spirit was infectious and his love, deep. He left us with memories to cherish and a reminder of the joy pets bring into our lives.

Archie the black and white fluffy dog layin gon his back witha grey cat sat beside him
Sharing is caring! ©Lifejourney4two

Maggie and Murphy: Unexpected Adventures in Prince Albert

In March 2020, we began what was supposed to be a five-week house sit in Prince Albert, a charming town on the edge of the Karoo Desert in South Africa’s Western Cape.

We had no idea what started as a five-week gig would turn into five months because of the Covid pandemic lockdown.

Maggie ad Murphy - a black dog and a small white and brown dog both with paws on Lars arm
Lars was teaching Murphy (the little brown and white dog) how to high five – Maggie, the black dog, was already onto the game! ©Lifejourney4two

A Duo to Remember

Maggie, a black mongrel with a slight resemblance to a small wolfhound, and Murphy, who looked more like a fox terrier, quickly became our companions.

The house’s large garden provided them plenty of space to roam, and it wasn’t long before we all settled into a comfortable routine. Lars, in particular, formed a special bond with Murphy, teaching him to high-five for treats—A trick that delighted both of them equally.

Maggie, on the other hand, had a hilarious quirk: she howled every time the honking Hadeda ibises flew overhead, making for quite a noisy spectacle.

A small brown and white dog stood beside a white wall with a red flower near his head
Murphy, who loved a cuddle on our laps ©Lifejourney4two

Lockdown Life and Lingering Bonds

As weeks turned into months, our attachment to Maggie and Murphy grew. Evenings by the log fire became our cherished moments, with Maggie curling up by our side and Murphy, ever the lap dog, snuggling into our laps.

While challenging, the lockdown allowed us to spend more time bonding with these two souls, making our eventual departure again more emotional.

Maggie - a black dog that looks like a small version of a wolf hound
Maggie ©Lifejourney4two

From House Sitters to Bush Camp Guardians

The story took an unexpected turn when the house owners, also affected by the travel restrictions, invited us to their bush camp in Klaserie National Park. After receiving special police clearance, we travelled across the country to the unfenced wilderness of the African bush.

They stayed for a few days to show us the ropes of bush living, teaching us which animals we could approach, those we should avoid, and behaviours to watch for that could save our lives.

Then they returned home, leaving us to manage on our own in this wild setting for the next three months.

lars lying on the couch with the two dogs
Five months with these cuties meant leaving them was a tug on the heartstrings ©Lifejourney4two

Life Amongst the Wild

This switch from a suburban setting to life in the middle of the bush was absolutely amazing.

We found ourselves in the middle of iconic African wildlife scenes: lions feeding on their prey, rhinos in our ‘front garden’, and hyenas roaming the camp. I had a close encounter with a leopard, and early one evening, we came across an elusive and rare pangolin, a first for us, which was incredible.

Not to mention the baboon that cheekily stole a lemon through the kitchen window. The wildlife was not just around us but part of our daily lives, providing unparalleled experiences that deepened our love for overlanding and self-drive safaris.

Check out Lars’s take on Life in the South African Bush for a deeper look at our time there.

Shelley-beside-elephant-Klaserie
Life in Klaserie Nature Reserve ©Lifejourney4two

Cotswolds Capers: Sheep Shenanigans and Laughter

Our brief house-sitting stint in the picturesque Cotswolds was unlike any other. Over two weeks, we cared for two dogs, two cats, a rescue horse, and an energetic flock of 40 sheep.

Among them was a lamb, affectionately named “Ginger Babe” by the owners due to its slight ginger tinge to its wool.

Remarkably, Ginger Babe would come running like a dog whenever we called its name, adding a delightful twist to our daily routines. (See the short clip at the end of this section for a charming glimpse of Ginger Babe in action!)

This house sit was only for two weeks, so there wasn’t such a tug at our heartstrings at the goodbyes—it takes around a two-month stay for the tears to start flowing for me! However, it did leave us with tears of another kind: tears of laughter.

House sitting in the Cotswolds, UK - Thatched roof house and two dogs sat on a lawn
Our Cotswold house sit ©Lifejourney4two

A Comical Capture

One day, we noticed one of the sheep hobbling awkwardly, its hoof nail overgrown and curling under. After discussing with the owners, they assured us it was simple enough—like trimming nails, with clippers in the shed.

Never ones to shy away from a challenge, Lars and I set out to catch the poor hobbler.

What followed was a hilarious, hour-long chase across the field, culminating in Lars finally grabbing the sheep.

But in his attempt to secure it for its impromptu pedicure, both Lars and the sheep ended up on the ground—in a rather compromising and comical position: Lars on his back with the sheep upside down on his chest.

house sitting -Two dogs in a field with three sheep sat in a further field
The closest pic I’ve found to the sheep field! And it might look like a sheepdog – but this pooch was more a hindrance than a help 😉 ©Lifejourney4two

Laughter in the Fields

I regret not capturing this absurd yet endearing moment on camera, but it’s etched in my memory forever. Watching my husband lying on the ground, struggling to keep a sheep on his chest, had me in stitches.

Tears streamed down my face from laughter as I finally composed myself enough to trim the sheep’s hoof. It was indeed just like giving a sheep a manicure, but oh, so much more memorable.

That hilarious episode in the Cotswolds, filled with unexpected animal antics and pure joy, will forever remind us of the lighter, often sillier side of house-sitting.

Video of Ginger Babe

For a dose of cuteness, watch this short video of “Ginger Babe” responding to my call just like a well-trained puppy. It’s not every day you see a lamb with such a personality!

Shelley and Ginger Babe the lamb #housesitting

The Emotional Journey of House Sitting … That’s a Wrap

Reflecting on these stories—from the heartfelt goodbyes with Teddy, Archie, Maggie, Murphy, and the spirited trio, Rouge, Red, and Bertie, to the uncontrollable laughter in the Cotswolds—underscores the emotional rollercoaster that is house-sitting.

Whether filled with joy, sorrow, or hilarity, each sit has deepened our understanding of what it means to become part of a pet’s life temporarily. These experiences, each unique and unforgettable, show us the profound connections that can be formed, even in the briefest encounters.

Though tears are a common theme when it’s time to say goodbye, especially after long stints, the joy and laughter they bring into our lives are what we cherish the most.

As we house sit on our travels, we’re not just collecting memories. Each pet we meet adds its own special mark to our lives, filling us with love and many unique moments.

And so, the question posed at the beginning remains: Do these emotional goodbyes put us off house-sitting?

Absolutely not. They are, in fact, what draws us back time and again—each goodbye making the hello that much sweeter.

To join or learn more about TrustedhouseSitters – the most popular house sitting Agency, we highly recommend (we’ve saved over $100,000 through them ) take a look here.

TrustedHousesitters - Vacation pet sitting, with love

🌍 Explore More Wildlife Encounters

Seal Watching in Scotland: Experience the serene beauty and curious nature of seals at Newburgh Seal Beach, a perfect spot for wildlife enthusiasts.

Puffin Paradise in Wales: Visit Skomer Island and witness the charming antics of puffins in their natural, rugged habitat.

Tracking Desert Elephants in Namibia: Follow our adventures as we seek out Namibia’s Desert Elephants, a rare and unforgettable wildlife experience.

Sunrise with Meerkats: Get close to these charismatic creatures at Kanaan Desert Retreat, where meerkats steal the show — video included.

Luxury Safari at Ivory Wilderness: Immerse yourself in a luxury safari experience in the Klaserie reserve at Ivory Wilderness River Rock Lodge.

Monkey Encounters in South Africa: Learn about primate conservation and meet a variety of monkey species at Monkeyland in Plettenberg Bay.

For more exciting tales and tips from our wildlife adventures, visit our complete collection of Animal Encounter Guides.

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For a more thorough list, visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Shelley

Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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