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General Articles

Pet-sitting ... temporary love

Having carried out eight house-sitting assignments, several that included pets, it’s been interesting to see how the animals behave when their owners leave.

We like to arrive at least the day before the owners depart to allow time to learn about the animals as we like to mirror the owners’ care as far as we can.

Our first assignment was looking after four dogs on a vineyard in the Var – three lively Jack Russells and a sensible Labrador, who had a willingness to be led astray! They were fairly used to having different people looking after them so they settled down quite quickly.

We had a great time caring for them, although they were perhaps more demanding than we had expected. They were so pleased to see us when we returned to the vineyard that I, in particular, thought we’d won them over. That was, of course, until their owner arrived. We immediately became second-class citizens and even though they were still fed by my husband, they only had eyes for their owner.

When we left them after four months, I was in tears, but they treated the day like any other, lounging on the red earth or running off to see the workers as they trimmed the vines. Our experiences on the vineyard even inspired me to write a novel in which the dogs have quite a leading role!

Just before Christmas 2010, we drove from the UK to Juan-les-Pins to look after a young French Bull-dog named Angus. He had a great life as he was taken along the sandy beach each day to the owner’s place of work and spent nearly all his time outside.

He was extremely upset when his owners left him and spent a long time looking out for them. We decided he had ‘abandonment issues’! He woke in the night, scraped the door and rushed to their room as soon as he could. It was very sad for us too, so we kept him busy with walks and day-trips to the other Riviera towns. He became very well-travelled! He was timid and submissive and very different to the dogs we had previously looked after. Big dogs seemed determined to intimidate him but he took it in his stride even when things appeared to be turning nasty.

Eventually, if my husband went off to the boulangerie, Angus would wait by the door until his return and I thought we’d won him over but it was only temporary. We collected his owners from Nice Airport – it was nice to be able to take him into the Arrivals hall – and he couldn’t have been more pleased to see them. Relegation, once again, for us ...

The same thing happened with a beautiful female Belgian Shepherd that we looked after in the Charentes-Maritimes. Although she seemed to enjoy all the time we devoted to her, she couldn’t wait for her owner to return!

We’ve only looked after one cat. She was fairly independent but liked spending the evening on the sofa with us and we became very fond of her. As soon as her owners returned, it was their laps that she jumped on!

These lovely pets have left us with some great memories and photos! We’ve also had the opportunity to stay in some super places in France. We know it quite well, anyway, but it’s been good to stay in proper homes, just in one place, for a reasonable length of time.

We have a page on the house-sitting website, Mind My House, should you be interested in finding out more.

My novel, ‘Thirty-five minutes from St Tropez’, is available for EUR 2,68 or £1.54 from Amazon Kindle Books. If you don’t have a Kindle, it is still possible to download it to your laptop or tablet.

Here Jane Dunning talks about writing her novel Thirty-five minutes from St. Tropez on The Riviea Woman.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012    Section: General Articles    Author: Jane Dunning
Article tags: Pet Sitting Cats Dogs
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