house sitting horror stories

House Sitting Horror Stories

I’d like to say I’ve seen it all when it comes to house sitting. And I’d like to say I’ve heard it all too. But some of our house sitting horror stories don’t even hold a candle to others. I don’t think any house sitter can predict everything that can possibly happen whilst sitting house. Even the best of them have their moments where they just forget to ask questions, or other times, as the saying goes…stuff happens!

Old habits seem to die hard for Shelly and I, as we once again fell into a house sit as we looked after a cute little 13 year-old Italian Greyhound. Now, looking after an older animal is one of those situations where you want to know the kind of health the animal is in. This little grey was in greyt shape (greyt pun eh) and was full of P & V. Our two night/three day house sit went off without a hitch. But in the back of our heads is always that “what if”.

So to help you prepare for your possible path into the profession of pet sitting , we present to you some potential…


I’m sure in time we’ll have more house sitting horror stories to share, thankfully our list is short and sweet, but for those who are just getting their house sitting career started, here are a few potential house sitting horror stories you may have to come to grips with.

House sitting in the tropics means you may have to sit additional pets, like bats, snakes, scorpions, howler monkeys (or other kinds of monkeys, like spider or ‘barrels of’, possums, rats, mice (alive and dead ones that cats like to leave as presents for you), lizards (live ones are fine, it’s the decapitated ones left as presents that you’ll have to deal with), crabs (usually in a pool), and other interesting species. All in a days work.

Another thing to remember about sitting in developing countries is that parasites can be contracted MUCH easier, both by you and things like tic-fever with the pets you’re watching. Oh, still think it’s glamorous looking after dogs in Latin America while overlooking the Pacific? Okay, now pry several tics off Fido and see how glamorous you feel.

Additionally, if you’re on your own as a house sitter, make sure you have someone to call to help you out should you fall ill (be it a parasite or foodborne illness).

And let’s not get started on weather hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, ice storms, snow storms, potential tsunamis, floods, wind storms, monsoons, landslides, avalanches, because we all know disasters can occur, just be prepared and know what potential disasters exist and go over any emergency preparedness procedures.

Developed countries aren’t immune to outbreaks, occasional animal intrusions, or weather-related disasters either. But house sitting in cold climates adds another element. Wow, pun-machine today! In cold climates, you’ll have to:

  • Shovel driveways and sidewalks
  • Scrape car windows of ice/snow
  • walk dogs in temperatures so cold that your nostrils freeze when you breathe (this actually happens you know)
  • Deal with ice (and use proper de-icing accoutrement, which is road/rock salt, sand, or kitty-litter)
  • Put up with crappy drivers that don’t know how to drive in the snow (okay, now I’m just venting as a Canadian)

But environmental variables aside, there are house sitting horror stories waiting to happen with the animals you look after as well. Here are some things you could either inherit or possibly have to deal with during your house sit:

  • Animal close to death (or passes on your watch)
  • Sick animal (see tic fever above)
  • Untrained animal / animal not housebroken / Poor animal behaviour (while this is relative to your personality, you’ll know when you’ve met your match)
  • Animal gets injured (like hit by a car, bitten by a snake, or fall prey to coyotes or even eagles)
  • Animal attacks another animal or human, like you (probably due to overuse of brackets)
  • Animal runs away
  • Animal takes family car for joy-ride with neighbourhood friends (this is likely to happen with a dog)

There are more, of course, which is why you should have a thorough animal questionnaire (don’t have one? Join the sell all your stuff mailing list and get one for free (don’t worry, we only send monthly newsletters and rarely use double brackets like we just did)).

And of course, pets and weather aside, you can have some homes that are…well…not so luxurious and lack certain amenities you’re accustomed to, or things could be in desperate need of repairs such as:

  • leaky taps, roofs, windows or doors (trust me, this sucks the hind one in rainy season)
  • lack of electricity (frequent power outages are common in Latin America)
  • slow or non-existent internet (see above)
  • unclean conditions (and sometimes unsanitary)
  • lack of potable water (or lack of water period)

It’s important to communicate with your home owners if something goes wrong while you’re house sitting. If you haven’t yet booked the sit, then gain an understanding of said potential issues.

As you can see house sitting horror stories can be easy to come by. In fact, almost all of the above happened to us at one house sit…does that make us lucky?

Now go sell all your stuff and create some house sitting horror stories!


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