House sitter member Robin, has enjoyed four fantastic summers house sitting in Mexico. Here she shares her adventures and shows how an adaptable and flexible house sitter can cope with any eventuality to ensure owners return stress free to happy pets!
“Rescuing a kitten from a boa constrictor, ritually binding an obsessive canine’s tail, caring for a wild cat who thought he was domestic, and a deaf cat who thought he was wild; getting marooned in a flood-soaked town. These were all real scenarios we never prepared for during our first pet-sitting stint in four different Mexican villages.
It was supposed to be a one-time thing, a summer adventure before we purchased a new home, found steady work and settled into comfort and complacency, sometimes known as a rut. But that summer down south, with quirky pets in quaint pueblos, hooked us. And freed us. We loaded all our possessions into a storage locker, and, four summers later, they’re still there, as we’re drawn back to Mexico year after year. With each sit, we’ve gained a little more experience, a little more knowledge, a little more confidence, and un poco mas Español.
The four villages in which we sat are not huge gringo tourist destinations. As a result, English speakers are rare, and our fluency was limited to hola and gracias. Smiles and gestures got us only so far. So we buckled down and taught ourselves some rudimentary phrases and numbers. What a thrill the first time we were actually understood in the markets!
The two coastal villages — San Pancho and Barra — were hot and humid, and the two mountain villages — Patzcuaro and Eronga — were cool and misty. Air conditioning and fans were a must on the coast, fireplaces and heaters in the mountains. The only element the two regions had in common was, well, the elements. Summer storms are legendary in Mexico, and many nights we’d sit up with the pets watching lightning rip through the sky while thunder boomed all around us and torrential rains turned streets into creeks. During our first year in San Pancho, the rains fell so heavily and so relentlessly that the rising river bulldozed and swept away our only bridge in and out of town. We were stranded. Undaunted, the locals rallied together and erected a pedestrian bridge within just a few days.
Meanwhile, we were so diligently keeping our furry friends high and dry that it never occurred to us the real danger was lurking in the hibiscus bush outside the gate. I had been dozing in the midday sun when suddenly a high-pitched yowl crackled through the heat. A cat fight, I thought, noting Horatio, the deaf but fearless orange tabby, was nowhere in sight. I quickly headed outside to the rescue and, as I opened the front gate, I heard a rustling in the bushes and instinctively called out — in vain, of course, because of the cat’s handicap. No sound, no fury. So I grabbed a fistful of branches and shook hard to try to flush out the fighters. What emerged was not a cat, oh no, not at all. It was a snake so long it spanned nearly the entire width of the road. I leapt back and let loose a series of expletives. Brazenly, the reptile slithered in front of me, making a beeline for the house. I proceeded to jump from one foot to the other, like Homer Simpson in a quandary. Why, I don’t know. I guess I thought if I spooked it enough I could divert it from the front door. It must have worked, because it changed direction, serpentined past me, under the car, around the flower pot, over the hedge and into the jungle.
As I stood there watching after it, my heart pounding, there was another rustling from the same bush. I swung around, thinking, what are the odds there’d be two? But out from the thicket appeared Valentino, the kitten, blinking in the sunlight, as if to say, “What’s all the racket about?” I exhaled. For a brief moment I wondered which one, the cat or the snake, considered the other a snack. Shuddering, I scooped up the kitty and dashed inside, checking over my shoulder for the scaly predator. Later, in describing the snake to some locals, the consensus was that I (and, more dangerously, Valentino) had dodged a boa constrictor . . .
This was the freakiest encounter we’d had as pet-sitters that first year. The others were just wacky. There was Clinker, an obsessive-compulsive Lhasa-Apso who whirled like a dervish trying to bite his own tail. It had gotten so bad his owners had half of it amputated, but still he spun. So they (and, in turn, us) had to bind it with tape to save the stump.
Then there was Rigo, a rescue dog whose origin was a mystery to his owners. Over the few weeks we cared for him, I began to suspect he’d grown up in a brothel or a strip club.
Between hot-to-trott mutts, snake-bating kittens, hot, steamy jungle and misty mountain highlands, there was never a shortage of adventures in pet-sitting. So much so, in fact, that I published a book called, appropriately, Adventures in Pet-Sitting. I’ve included a section on how you, too, can have your own adventure, if you’re doggedly determined.”
You can find Robin’s Trustedhousesitters.com profile here if you would like to contact her regarding a house sitting assignment
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