Dibley & Yet – On my first ever visit and stay in London, I house sat in the colourful area of Brixton, South of Central London. In my care was Dibley, a Bearded Collie of 11 years and Yet, a ten-year-old Domestic Shorthair. Dibley, a sweet girl likes things predictable and unexciting, including her walks, feeding times and play things. A veteran in the neighbourhood and her park, she is easily recognisable with her big soulful eyes and shaggy grey coat and well-liked by all those who know her. In the three level home, Yet has claimed the second floor as her home base and will wonder upstairs in the evening or down to the kitchen for a late night snack, but mostly loves her corner with her scratching pole and the underfloor heating in the bathroom.
Jasper, Bunny Go John, Unicorn Pegasus, Charlie and Truffle – Jasper a one year old Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee”), the ancient Aztec dog of the gods or more commonly known as a Mexican Hairless Dog. Jasper had many of the qualities this breed is known for, a loving companion and vigilant watchdog. The alert and loyal Xolo comes in either hairless or coated varieties, Jasper fortunately as a lover of the Scottish outdoors has a black coat. There were two dirty ducks there too, Unicorn Pegasus and Bunny Go John. They were always happy and content and can go from slug slurping in the mud, to immaculate white downy pillows nesting on their straw bed. And two geckos, Truffle and Charlie that required their enclosure to be kept at the right heat and humidity.
Lili & Lucy – A Persian and a little white dog that live in an apartment in a small village in the Herault region of France. Lili (the Persian) is happy to sleep on various surfaces, high and low, big and small, soft and hard and despite outward appearances is very affectionate and will welcome walkers home with meows from the balcony. Lucy is energetic, but well behaved and a fabulous hiking dog. She never gets tired and always stays close and as long as there are only trees and rocks to contend with she is the queen of the trails.
Jackie, Tilly, Dolly & Jeti – Four sisters that have lived together in the small village of Marathounta, Cyprus for a long time. They are all sweet, affectionate, well behaved and ageing gracefully. This foursome is much loved and cared for and get the exclusive priveledges of being the inside pets (see the other outside animals at this sit below). They all love having company and were quick to let me know if I was not paying them enough attention or too much attention to one of the other siblings. With numerous snoozing spots to catch the afternoon sun or hide in a cosy cupboard, a headcount would sometime have me on a hunt for a missing cat, only to find Dolly, Jeti or Tilly in a favourite quiet corner or basket.
Percy, JoJo, Barooch, One Eye, Micha, Tiny & Allessio – Seven lucky wild cats of Cyprus. They have an entire balcony and huge yard to defend between morning and evening feeding times. This seven, plus the four above, make my largest house sitting assignment to date. It was a pleasure to learn all of their personalities, and the hierarchy and power structure within this tribe. An occasional scrap, hiss and howl could be heard in the evening, but the law of cat society had big old JoJo as the head of the tribe, Percy the “I’m too pretty cat”, the two black boys Tiny and Allessio the stealth warriors, Micha the only girl and very timid and shy and Barooch the ginger has some health issues and is the most delicate in the group.
Whiskey, Ollie & Didge – Three older cats that live in the English countryside and enjoy a charmed life. They each have their own territory marked out and respect each others space, favourite spots and most importantly feeding stations. The two brothers (no points for guessing which ones they are) are almost indistinguishable, Didge a bit longer and leaner while Ollie more solid and chunky. Whisky, a bit wobbly on her aging back legs usually rests on the window sill in the sun but can get up a mean hiss if her favourite dish of shrimp for breakfast is being eyed off by one of the boys.
Tiger, Lily & Tigger – An older brother and sister pair with a younger sibling make up this trio. Tiger and Lily are about ten years old and have cohabitated most of their life. They come from the U.S. but have seen more of Europe than many people. One their journeys they were joined by Tigger, named for his jumping like the fictional character and now they are three. Tigger as the youngest is tolerated by the older pair, and he makes no apologies for keeping them on their toes and making sure they protect their turf.
Winston – 11 year old male, Old English Sheep Dog. Winston lives in the Old Town of Nardo in the Salento region, also known as “the heel” of Italy. He sports a dashing do to stay cool during the hot Italian Summers and adds to this by snoozing the afternoons away on the polished cement floor of his home. When the sun goes down Winston walks the town and charms the locals and visitors alike. Winston knows where the best pizza bars are and will make a beeline for home when he has had enough attention from all of the Win-a-ston-a fans of Nardo, Italy.
PB & Rhino – This brother and sister pair could not be more different, in both their looks and personalities. Small and grey Rhino is ironically named but has the confidence of a horned African beast and PB is big and goofy and the colour of his namesake sandwich spread. Both completely adorable, they live a wonderful life in the Bucharesti suburbs. Their days exist to torment the neighbour’s dogs and be doted on by the Building Manager, a far cry from the cardboard box they were found in at just a couple of weeks old on the Romanian streets.
Steve & Tom – On my first visit to the UK, I spent one month on the beautiful Isle of Wight in a small village in the South West. During this time I cared for Tom & Steve, both about ten years old and have grown up together after they were rescued as kittens in Africa. Tom is an independent, tough and chatty fellow and Steve is sweet and playful. Steve is blind and so requires a greater level of vigilance and care, but this extremely capable cat loves to go for walks in the field and knows his way around the place and doesn’t let his lack of vision slow him down.
Tosca & Otto – after three months in Africa I circled back to Europe, having been asked to return to house sit in the beautiful Algarve in the South of Portugal. I was delighted to be asked to come back to look after the charismatic and incredibly elegant Tonkinese pair Tosca & Otto. Otto, the bigger, handsome brother with huge blue eyes lets his cheeky sister Tosca be the boss. Impeccably mannered and aloof to say the least, a treat might inspire a trot and two pair of unwavering eyes firmly focussed on the target at hand.
Mateo – This feisty Tunisian kitten of five months old, if the size of his paws are anything to go by is destined for big things. He is a natural born predator and has more than just a wild streak in him. With pointy ears and fine markings this pretty boy born in the streets of Tunis is definitely the Alpha Male of the house, where the cat is king.
Bella & Buster – Two young pups that have gone into early retirement and have moved South with their owners from Wales. Bella had a tough start and still has some of the street spunk that helps her hold her own with her little brother. Buster is a one year old and is working on becoming an urban eating myth of Playa Flamenca and will take a treat at any time of day.
Tosca & Otto – They come as a pair, two lovely Tonkinese. They are brother and sister and have come all the way from New Zealand to enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle in the Algarve, South of Portugal.
Nola – A two year old female Labrador Cross with sweet eyes and a lovely temperament. Nola enjoys walks in the forest behind the village where she lives in Marseille and loves to check to see if you can fold up blankets by swapping her favourites around.
Chiko – A male Podenco. While not a permanent resident at the house I was sitting Chiko would make regular appearances and enjoyed the hospitality and company of the rest of the tribe.
Katy – A female Podenco, a Spanish breed of dog originally from the Canary Islands. The Podenco is still used in the Canary Islands today in packs as a hunting dog but Katy got lucky and lives in the Spanish country side with four cats and gets to run around in the hills during the day, stay cool in her kennel or warm up in the sun as it sets.
Tiger – He’s big and he’s black and he might just be a little bit magic! This sleek and stealth guy liked afternoons in the sun and nights on the prowl – and not to be disturbed!
Soxy – She is one very cool character who was found in a bin as a kitten and has risen up the ranks to top cat of the campo. She is the matriarch of her feline family and isn’t shy in pulling out the punches and can turn on the good looks and gentle charm when the moment strikes her.
Lily – A divine pure white feline. She was a rescue kitten but belongs in a cat show, and she might just know it. A little moody and not to be underestimated this pretty white fluffy thing runs the country side by day and night and then contends with her grooming every other waking minute, I don’t know how she fits it all in!
George – 12 week old kitten, delightfully fun and playful and ready to take on anything in the campo. Formidable and fierce with the help of his two big sisters and brother he pops up in places unexpectedly, provides hours of entertainment and fantastic companionship.
Ginger – 13 year old domestic short hair that I sat in an Adelaide home for three weeks. Ginger was very timid when we first met, and on the two occasions I visited her home before the sit she was in hiding the whole time. On the first day of the sit I was still yet to spot Ginger, although food was being eaten and as an indoor only cat there was nothing for me to be concerned about. With older timid cats I give them a chance to get used to a stranger in their home and allow them to socialise with me in their own time. Two days into the sit Ginger was purring loudly, sharing the couch with me and waking me up with those big dish plate eyes.
Rocky – 3 year old male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that I sat for a short few days while his parents were visiting friends outside of the city. We enjoyed some short walks in the park near by in between the rain and wind . A wonderful cheeky character and lots of fun to spend time with.
Tonka – a 11 year old male Burmilla that is independent and likes to keep an eye on things but very keen to also monitor what is happening in the home, especially in the kitchen. This chatty cat would always welcome me back to his home and on a cold day could be found curled up on the couch.
Blazer – A six month old Cavoodle that has energy to burn! Loves walking in the beautiful parklands that surround Adelaide and socialising with the other dogs in the dog park near by. But after a big walk he is happy to take a Saturday afternoon snooze and keep me company.
Gilbert – This is Gilbert, a 9 year old domestic cat. I was looking after him in his beautiful period home in Adelaide while his owners were away. He did miss them as he is very spoiled but we soon came to be good friends. He loves to cuddle up and keep warm with me and is very chatty.
Champy – This big guy had the run of the house, let himself in and out and knew when breakfast and dinner was due to be served. He would pop up stairs to check on me in the morning to ensure I was coming down for breakkie with him.
Elliot – I was fortunate to be reunited with my old friend Elliott and picked up where we left off. On the couch, curled up and cosy.
Ginger, Hazel and Chocolate – good layers except when it gets really cold. A healthy happy brood living a charmed free range life.
Georgie – Machi’s sweet timid sister, also a Maremma Sheepdog. This is an intelligent and strong willed breed and Georgie is characteristic of their independent thinking. She needed a little extra attention to make sure her breakfast and dinner didn’t go missing before she managed to get to it. A very sweet girl who was happy to rest in her favourite spot or run around with her brother.
Machi – A big old male Maremma Sheepdog who loves to run around with his sister Georgie out in the cool windy weather of the Adelaide Hills but always gentle, well mannered and good company sitting in the warmth out of the cold night.
Elliot – I recently took care of this two your old man in a lovely Adelaide home. Elliot definitely asserted his position as man of the house and was sure to be there in the evenings to keep an eye on things and in the mornings to ensure I did not forget where the pantry was! Aloof to start with Elliot and I shared some quality couch time and he would snuggle up after a few well placed scratches around the ears and chin.
Rosie – An adorable 18 month old cat I fostered from the RSPCA, Rosie lived with me for a few months before I left Darwin to relocate to South Australia. A delightful girl who liked to have a chat and was happiest when she had company and could hang out while I was working.
Boodgie – A female foster kittie I looked after for a few months in Darwin. She was naturally curious, and liked a cuddle after playing and running around. PAWS Darwin is an animal welfare organisation in Humpty Doo dedicated to providing care for unwanted and stray animals with the ultimate goal of re-homing these animals to loving families. Boodgie found a permanent home in the Darwin area.