You might think serving others is about volunteering at a building project for the homeless or teaching someone to read. 

But what, exactly does serving mean to you?

Here are some serving actions that may help you think beyond the traditional ways:

  • Giving
  • Teaching
  • Loving
  • Supporting
  • Showing
  • Encouraging


The Problem 

The universal problem for a pet owner and homeowner is:

How can I have peace of mind about my pets and home while I travel?

The actuality of pet sitting and house sitting has always existed because people have always traveled. In the old days, it used to be family members who stepped in and became caretakers. However, families now live far apart and can’t just drop their own lives to be the caretakers. Then it became ‘who can I hire to caretake’ and there are still a variety of options for hiring others. It costs money, yes, and often is unaffordable for the host to pay for the trip plus a paid minder. The most recent development is a movement of the sharing economy called pet and house sitting. You don’t pay someone. They caretake in return for lodging. And it’s all over the world.

If you travel, you have this same problem. Even when you don’t have pets, you need to secure your home. At least two of my research interviews discuss how an empty house can attract squatters and how owners are afraid to travel unless someone (a family member, friend or house sitter) is present. If you read about squatters and the legal means to get rid of them, you’ll know what a problem it is. A friend of mine lives north of Seattle in a ritzy area called Woodway. One neighbor came back from a month-long trip and an entire family had moved into their home, emptied everything that was sellable and basically trashed the remainder.

Knowing this, the secondary problem is about trust:                        

How can I trust a stranger with my pets and my home?

How do I know they are trustworthy?


Possible Situations

Have you noticed your great imagination? It runs down a path of potential risks as you consider trusting a stranger.

  • What if the sitter feeds something that harms my pet
  • What if the sitter breaks my expensive espresso machine
  • What if the sitter lets the cat out and can’t get it back in but there’s coyotes out there
  • What if the sitter sets off the security system and the security service shows up and I get a $250 bill for the call
  • What if the sitter goes off for a couple of days and leaves my pets unattended
  • What if the sitter doesn’t show up when we need to leave for the airport
  • What if the sitter said they are a non-smoker but smells of it when they show up
  • What if the sitter drives up to your lovely home in ‘Cousin Eddie’s’ wreck of a motor home with a wife and two teens

One way to resolve these questions is to do your research into your pet sitter’s background and references. Do they do what is expected?
Many hosts want sitters to arrive a day or two early so they can see for themselves how their pets and property are respected by the sitters.
From the host and sitter viewpoint, it’s a great idea.

We found it helpful to visit hosts and pets as the pet sit conversation is held. This works when you live within driving distance to your future pet sit. We did visit our first hosts on Whidbey Island. We wanted to get a feel for the pets and the home and the hosts. It was very friendly and we felt it would be a great service as the hosts went on their badly needed vacation.

It’s hard to do when you go to pet sit in Europe, for example, but not impossible. We were heading to the Midi of France for a pet sit in early fall and a new host reached out for a possible assignment. They invited us to come and stay for a couple of days as they’d never met traveling pet sitters before. Since we had an extra couple of days, we accepted. They had a fully-furnished apartment on the second story of their home so we were comfortable and independent.  We became great friends and agreed to pet sit for their Spring vacation to India for a month.

In this way, the above questions were resolved by meeting us and evaluating our caretaking abilities.


Serving A Bigger Cause

The pet sitting and house sitting movement is based on trust and serving others by giving peace-of-mind.

What do you believe about peace-of-mind? Isn’t it the best gift of all to your host? They can enjoy their trip a hundred percent. People are hungry to travel. People also need to travel for reasons of work, weddings and wakes.

Peace-of-mind is an invisible gift that has tangible results. It’s a desperately needed refreshment and recharge to prepare for the next season of work. A surprising benefit to giving someone this gift, is the happiness impact on yourself. As Booker T Washington said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

Can you see yourself serving by:

  • Giving – by taking responsibility of caretaking off the shoulders of hosts
  • Teaching – is really sharing information the pet may not know, or the host may not know
  • Loving – lots of snuggles (for the pets) and a picture or video, to the hosts as they travel
  • Supporting – being willing to step up when needed even if something is not on your list of expectations
  • Showing – being where you say, when you say
  • Encouraging – cheering your hosts as they are on vacation to reassure their peace of mind

The great benefit of serving is the joy it brings you. As James Hunter says,

               “Serving others breaks you free from the shackles of self and self-absorption that choke out the joy of living.”


The Surprising Results

The surprising results of serving as pet and house sitter are:

  1. It feels great to give someone peace-of-mind
  2. It amplifies your joy of being fully alive and grateful
  3. You understand your life matters, your purpose is being fulfilled


If you want to learn how, click this.



You ask me who I am.

I am SharonAnn



ᴛᴏ use house and pet sitting

ғᴏʀ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛᴇɴᴅᴇᴅ ᴀᴍᴏᴜɴᴛ ᴏғ ᴛɪᴍᴇ,

ᴛʀᴀᴠᴇʟ ᴀs ᴍᴜᴄʜ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀs ʟᴏɴɢ ᴀs ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀɴᴛ,

ᴇᴠᴇɴ ᴡʜᴇɴ ʏᴏᴜ’ʀᴇ sᴏʟᴏ.











Originally Published on

SharonAnn Hamilton Travel Lifestyle Guide

I've always loved to read. Stories invited me into adventures but left me hungry for action. Why couldn't I experience adventures for myself? At first I thought lack of MONEY was the problem. Then career came and I thought TIME was the problem. So I set out on a journey to prove that I could live my own adventures regardless of money or time. Now I teach others how.