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About Us

usplusclinkWe are a semi-retired married couple based in the Greater Vancouver area. We’re self-employed in the publishing industry and, with access to wi-fi, can work from anywhere. We fell into house- and pet-sitting by accident, when, in 2009, we helped out neighbours who were uncomfortable leaving their home alone. These neighbours wintered in Mexico each year, which got us to thinking, there must be others out there just like them. Turns out, there are. We discovered pet-sitting sites such as Housecarers, Trusted Housesitters, and HouseSitMexico, signed on and, dozens of sits later, we’ve been pet-sitting ever since. Read the References section to see what homeowners have said about us — every single one has asked us back, a testimonial in itself.

During our 35 years of marriage, we’ve traveled to roughly 60 countries on six continents, so we’re comfortable in just about any cultural setting. We’re all the things you’d expect (and demand) in people to whom you entrust your home and pets: reliable, dependable, honest, trustworthy, resourceful, conscientious, non-smoking, clean and tidy. We also love animals, and understand the special relationship you share with your pets. We tend to click immediately with dogs and cats and have bonded with many, even after short pet-sits. They are our top priority when they are in our care; you can rest assured they will be very well looked after in your absence.

Rick also loves to photograph the pets, and will send as many pictures as you like to reassure you they are happy and healthy while you enjoy your well-deserved time away. We are also very fit and active, so you know your dog will get all the activity s/he needs, and your kitty the playtime s/he deems appropriate (after all, dogs have owners, cats have staff!).

A Bit of Background…

The genesis of this site was unleashed in 2010 during our dog days in Mexico, when we cared for a menagerie of ex-pats’ pets in four different pueblos. Anyone who has ever met a dog or cat knows how inadvertently entertaining they can be. So I started chronicling their antics in a blog, which later bred into a book, Adventures in Pet-Sitting (available on Amazon and Smashwords). After our stint as critter sitters down south, we returned home to continue caring for cats and dogs in our native British Columbia. Like restless dogs, we don’t sit still for long, though. We hope to range far and wide and snuffle out animal houses in need of our services.

Pet-sitting is not all fun and games, however. Well, it mostly is, but occasionally a serious situation will arise. Like the time one of the dogs we cared for, a ferocious-looking beast who normally was very mild-mannered, suddenly snapped his leash and, fangs bared, charged after a smaller dog (disaster was averted; the only injuries incurred were paws and pride). Or the time a boa constrictor stalked a kitten in our care (again, disaster averted — narrowly). Or, when a dog or cat is so old that they come with a host of health issues, from feline AIDS to allergies that manifest in stinky scratch-athons to full-blown heart failure or cancer.

Since we care for the pets, we care for the conditions. Thus, we’ve learned a lot about AIDS, allergies, skin ailments, collapsing trachea, dysplasia, heart issues and cancer, and have experience caring for such pets in collaboration with a variety of veterinarians, both in BC and Mexico.

Thanks for stopping by. Perhaps we’ll care for your own four-legged baby!

Fur-ever yours,

Robin and Rick,

RobinandRick@yahoo.ca

Click here to find out how it all started with our first blogs – MexicoMomentos

Hoppin’ Along

Kahlua back at her happiest place, testing out her three legs on the sand.

“Obstacles don’t block the path, they are the path”, as the saying goes. And Kahlua has blazed a path for herself with three doggedly determined legs. Wobbly sometimes, weak often, but undeniably determined. We could all take a lesson about overcoming adversity from dogs. They don’t brood or mope, they carry on. Sometimes with less than before, but onward all the same.

“How did you know? Thank you so much, Uncle Rick!”

 

Kahlua would often forget she’s now a tripawd and barreled out the door, only to be surprised she couldn’t get where she wanted to go fast enough. And where she wanted to go, her happiest place on earth, is the beach. We promised her once she got some strength in her three remaining legs that we’d let her feel the sand between her 12 toes. Before we left her and San Pancho this summer, we made good on that promise many times. One look at her face, golden from the setting sun, and the joy was obvious.

Promise kept: sand between her 12 toes. Click on the photo above for a slideshow of more photos of Kahlua’s days at the beach.

 

 

Her footprints in the sand aren’t the same, but the imprint is indelible. Kahlua was here.

 

Surviving to Thriving: An Update

After Kimberly took the tiny Sobreviviente (Vivi) under her wing last month, I missed that little furball every day. So did Kahlua. Every time we walked out the front door, she nosed through the ferns, looking for her. Every time we walked past the garbage bin, my eyes rested on the spot we first noticed what we thought was a rat. But it was a scruffy little kitten, scratching and biting through the trash bags for rotting food to fill a baby belly that should only have contained mama’s milk. I still shudder to think what would have become of her had Kimberly not opened her heart and home to the little ragamuffin.

 

I wanted so badly to see her again, but I wanted enough time to pass for her to get used to her new home and, frankly, for me to let go emotionally. So I waited. And then, finally, after about a month, I saw her again. Turns out, not only has this wee warrior survived, she’s thrived. And not only has she gotten used to her new home, she’s taken it over. Kimberly says Vivi rules the roost. The rest of the home’s menagerie — two big dogs, an aloof older cat and a benevolent bunny — not only welcomed her unconditionally, they’ve fallen in love with her. We watched as one of the dogs trotted over and licked her, his tongue wiping her entire face and nearly knocking her over. She’s even infused the senior cat with new life and the two actually play together.

I was so excited to see her again, to see her happy, healthy and fitting in so well, that I got on my knees and called her to me. But she ran away. This once frightened, helpless creature who had tentatively made her way to me, nuzzling my legs and somersaulting over my feet, gratefully devouring the food I brought to her, now ran from me like I was an ogre. I choked up. I eventually held her, but she didn’t know me. I set her down among her new mismatched pack, and left her. I’ve never been so sad or so happy to not be needed.

R.I.P., Chica

Another four-legged soul has crossed the Rainbow Bridge to join a magnificent menagerie of dearly departed pets we’ve cared for over the years. Curt and Cele’s beautiful Siamese/Himalayan-cross passed away in Puerto Vallarta today after a brief illness.

She was as eccentric as she was lovely. I wrote about her quirks while pet-sitting her and her bestie, Cana, along with canine companions Oro and Paloma, in 2014. She liked to drag rags from room to room, pausing only long enough to dip her paw into the gardener’s watering can for a wee sip. The rest of the day was spent cuddling up with Cana.

Curt and Cele rescued Chica, as they did Cana a month or so later, 12 years ago when they lived in San Miguel. The two cats quickly bonded and were bosom buddies for life, until the life left Cana in January 2015. Chica never seemed to fully recover from the loss of her fellow feline rescue-in-arms. Now the two blue-eyed beauties are reunited, to nuzzle forever. Small comfort, but comfort nonetheless. We’ll miss you, little girl.

Click on the first photo below for a slideshow of Chica and her odd drinking habits, and the second one of Chica nuzzling with Cana.

My Day at the Zoo

Confessions of a Future Pet-Sitter – By Rick

When I first told my dad about my day at the zoo, I had never — and still have never — seen him laugh harder in my life. I, on the other hand, failed to find the humour in the story. It has been many years since I told anyone else of the series of unfortunate events that unfolded that day at this unspoken place of horrors. Looking back, I suppose I can see the humour now, but it has taken a while.

Let me take you way back to that time, in the 1970s, when I suggested to my then new girlfriend, Robin, that we take a country drive to what was known then as the Aldergrove Game Park (now the Greater Vancouver Zoo). Since this was a beautiful sunny summer day and I had a new MGB convertible sports car, I thought this would be a nice way to spend the day. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now, keep in mind this was a long time ago and some of the things that happened that day I may have subconsciously erased from my mind, but I swear the following events, as I recall them, are true. I don’t know what was going on with the cosmos that day, but the stars were not lined up in a good way for me.

I wanted to show Robin what a great rapport I had with animals of all sorts and this would be a perfect place to do that since there were many opportunities to get up close and personal with the lovely creatures.   Our first stop was at the primate cages near the entrance. After marvelling over their obvious intelligence and uncanny resemblance to modern man, we turned to leave. Suddenly one of the little bastards hurled something at the back of my head. “What the hell was that?” I wondered aloud. Had I known the nightmare had just begun, we would have left right then.

Our next stop was at a field of ostriches and emus. Great, I can show Robin how to properly pet an emu. Here comes one now. “Just rub its neck like this,” I demonstrated for her, “they love that.” Ow! Son-of-a-bitch nipped me on the arm! “Maybe it was trying to eat some of that stuff the monkey threw at me,” I reasoned as I rubbed my arm.

OK, over to the next enclosure. “Look at these llamas, they’re coming right up to us. Check this out, Robin, this one wants to have a staring contest with me.” As I followed the animal’s gaze, playing a kind of game of mirror, thwaap!, out shot a gross concoction of saliva and grass that landed right between my eyes. “Damn it!”

Mopping my forehead, we headed over to the hippo enclosure. One of the big fellas had made his way out of its muddy pond and was standing right up to the fence. Perfect, a close encounter. Except it was a little too close. At that precise moment, while I stood right next to him, he chose to relieve himself. He then turned and proceeded to swish his tail like a windshield wiper at high speed, spraying his stinky hip-poo all over my pants and shoes.

Undeterred, off we went to see the lions, my favourite animal in the world, King of the Beasts. I have nothing but respect for this beautiful cat. Look, the big male is making his way over! This is great, just look at him, he’s magnificent. A little kid was standing beside me also observing the lion and asking questions. “Why is he turning his back on you? Why is he lifting his tail?” “Why is it twitching?” “I don’t know,” I replied, just as — bullseye — he got me! “I guess he was pissed off,” giggled the kid as he scampered off. Right then and there, dripping with cat spray, I lost every ounce of respect for lions…

Struggling to contain her own laughter, Robin suggested that we go over to the kids’ petting zoo area, where they keep the friendly animals, as if I need some sort of safe zone. I reluctantly agreed. With my tail between my legs, we moved towards the kiddy area. What could go wrong? Well, for starters, before we even entered the zoo, I stepped in dog shit. While I was scraping the crap off my shoe, Robin went and purchased some food for the waiting animals. “Hey, give me some of that,” I told her, “I’ll go feed these guys over here, they seem hungry by the way they’re looking at me.” It was like they hadn’t seen food in weeks, I was under attack! They were coming at me from all directions. The sheep were stepping on my feet and biting at my fingers trying to pry the food from my hands, while a goat kept taking runs at me from behind like it was rutting season. Aren’t these animals a little too big and aggressive for a kids’ petting area?, I wondered, as a llama barrelled toward me, head down, a crazed yet familiar look in his eye. I tossed the food in the air, the animals scrambled to gobble it up, leaving me room to make a hasty retreat.

Failing to see a pattern, and determined to salvage this disaster of a day, I decided to hang out with the elephants while Robin fed the last of her food to a gathering of calm, well-behaved animals that surrounded her. Meanwhile, I stood face to face with this huge beast, who looked me square in the eye like it wanted to say hello. I suppose it did, in its own special way. I had turned away for only a moment to see how Robin was doing when I turned back to the elephant, but we were no longer face to face. We were face to butt, and before I could step back the magnificent fat bastard let go a fart that gave new meaning to the phrase “breaking wind”. More like breaking bad. My hair literally blew back from my face in a warm gust of putrefied smog. I stumbled away with my eyes running, gasping for air. “That does it, no more, I’ve had it!” I hollered.

As Robin finally came into focus, I wondered what she was thinking after having to witness this awful display of animal behaviour. Rather than sharing my horror, she was laughing hysterically. Mustering whatever was left of my dignity, I turned on my heel and declared, “We’re leaving.”

You may think it all ended there, but no. While I stomped back to the car, reeking from a fetid brew of animal excrement, Robin trailed behind, trying desperately to hold back her laughter. Not seeing any humour in the events of this bizarre outing, I proceeded to fold down the top of the MGB to allow for the maximum amount of wind to disperse the stench clinging to my clothes. But the park had one final parting shot in store for me. As we were driving out of the lot, a lone seagull let loose its load from above with stunning precision and landed a direct hit on the steering wheel, spattering my already abused face. Robin, at this point, could not hold back. Her eyes were filled with tears of laughter as she hysterically cracked up at my expense. I did not say a word, I did not smile. Instead, I calmly wiped the feces from my eyes, and drove away. In my wake, I could swear I heard a chorus of cackles coming from the direction of the primate cage…

And still there was more. On the way home, somewhere between the park and my decontamination shower, some sort of large (perhaps a crane or heron) bird opened fire with a massive amount of droppings on our car, spraying the hood and windshield. Ha! missed me. Triumphant, I turned on the wipers and we drove the rest of the way home in silence. I have never returned to the zoo.

Postscript: Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that, decades into the future, this beastly trauma would prepare me for years of adventures in pet-sitting. After my day at the zoo, nothing any four-legged furball throws at me will break me.