We are excited to have completed our first Leeds House sit successfully and with flying colors! The house and neighborhood were fabulous and it was a great place for the kids.

There were a couple of bumps along the way but nothing out of the ordinary:

Bump #1:

The first day after the homeowners left, we wanted the timid pup, Cara, to get used to the kids without feeling cornered in the house. We all went out to the tennis court (they had a tennis court) and had the pup on a long lead staked in the yard (they had a yard) to watch them play for a bit. 

Then we brought her into the tennis court and took her off her lead. She kept her distance at first but started chasing a few balls, then running around with Oliver and Vera. Success!

Soon it was time for lunch.
"Cara, come!"
Cara had gotten tired of running around and parked herself in a corner of the tennis court. 
"Come Cara!" 

Cara remained in her corner.

I walked over to get her. She walked to the other corner. I followed, and she walked around me back to the first corner. I quickened my pace trying not to scare her. She walked past the net to the other side of the court.


The whole point of bringing her to the tennis court was to get her comfortable with us, so we didn't want to chase and corner her. I don't think we could have if we tried, she was pretty quick. There were four corners and only two of us. 

Wait a minute, there are four of us!

"Oliver, can you go give Cara a nice gentle pet?"
Oliver walked over to Cara. She stayed where she was and let him pet her. "Good job, buddy! Can you hold onto her harness?" Oliver grabbed her harness. Success!

Cara stood up and walked over to the other corner of the tennis court. Oliver held on for about three steps, then let go.

We had to sweeten the pot. 
Tim stayed on the court with her while I went inside to get some treats. 
"Cara, treat!" I threw her a small piece of something that looked like bacon, and tantalizingly waved another larger piece around in the air.

Cara remained in her corner.

Tim walked slowly backwards toward her (we have a timid dog at home, we know how this game is played). When she started looking anxious, he sat down and started inching himself backwards toward her, holding out some kind of dried-up fish, until he was seated next to her. He held the fish treat under her nose with one hand and slowly reached for the harness with the other. He got his finger under the leash rings. Success!

Cara gave a little yelp of surprise. The leash rings were sticking up from either side of the buckle on the harness. Tim's finger slipped right up between the two rings. Cara walked to the other corner. 

Tim took the kids inside. It was my turn again.

Alone with me on the tennis court, she finally let her guard down. After some sweet-talking and showers of treats strewn across the tennis court, she let me get close enough to get ahold of her harness and clip the leash on. Success, in under three hours!

Now Tim's wondering how he's going to get the four horses into the stable during our upcoming house-sit in France.

Bump #2:

The owners generously left some wine and beer for us to imbibe during our stay.

One day Tim helped himself to what looked like an expensive beer.
"Are you sure you're supposed to be drinking that?" I asked.

"Yes, they left all the beer for us." he replied, but then took another look at the beer assortment. The beers on the bottom shelf looked fairly common, but the top shelf was a collection of single bottles of various craft beers.
"Hmm, he might have told me that just the bottom shelf was for us."

We took a picture of the bottle and found a specialty beer shop to try to replace it. "Ben Rhydding Brewery?" said the shop owner. "Ben is a friend of mine. He brewed very small 100 liter batches. It was only available at our shop and one or two other places."

"But you don't have any more?"
"No. He stopped brewing two months ago. His last bottle was auctioned off for 30 pounds."

That's 50 dollars. We both had a minor heart attack. 

"But it was a pale ale, so it shouldn't age in the bottle. It needed to be drank," he said.
"You're not making me feel better." said Tim. "Do you have anything else like it?"
"No, nothing that rare."

We bought a few other beers that he recommended and gave them to the owners when they returned, apologizing profusely for mistakenly drinking the one-of-a-kind top-shelf beer.

"What do you mean?" the owner replied. "All of that beer was for you. I expected you to drink it all, you lightweight!"

Many have asked how we've been finding these homes.

The website we have been using to find our house-sits is: www.trustedhousesitters.com It is has been a great source for the fall and hopefully the coming year. Below is our first homeowner review:

Leeds England: Home Owner
We left a large house and a 1 year old timid puppy in the hands of Tim and Erin, to say we were nervous is an understatement! as this was the first time we had left our dog. We came back to a very happy, healthy and confident dog who clearly adored Erin, Tim and the children Oliver and Vera.
All our dog walking friends locally have since commented on seeing our dog out with them looking very well cared for and happy.
We are ecstatic at the fantastic way our dog and home was looked after. They are kind, lovely people with compassion and understanding of dogs and people and the trust you place in them to look after your beloved dog and home. I would ask them to come back every time if only they lived closer!

On to our two cats in Switzerland!