James with Alpaca

Pet Sitters in France

18 Alpacas, 12 Cats, 6 Dogs and 2 Turtles Later

James with Alpaca
James with one of the eldest of the Alpacas, Jessica.

Last July my partner (Jemma) and I set off on an adventure to go off and live in France. Since then, we’ve had the pleasure of looking after all of the animals mentioned in the title and no doubt there are plenty more opportunities on their way, although I’m not sure if alpacas will ever crop up again.

Don’t think I’m writing this to make you jealous about all of the wine and cheese I’m eating; cheese-envy is completely natural and something that can’t be avoided. I’m writing this because it recently occurred to me that what I’m doing (as someone who isn’t a vet or has any intention of becoming one) could be a fantastic opportunity for anyone who did want to become a vet.

So what am I doing?

I’m housesitting. Basically when pet owners go away they need someone to look after their pets. They then post an advert on a housesitting website like Trusted Housesitters. As a housesitter I keep an eye on their list of housesitting jobs and whenever one pops up, bingo, I apply. I don’t get paid for housesitting (although some people do charge for their housesitting services) instead I use it as a source of free accommodation to travel.

Why it might be useful for you

Looking after animals and practicing as a vet are obviously two completely different things, however the first reason it might be of interest to you is that as a vet, you’re likely to be an animal lover like myself. If you are looking after people’s pets might have an appeal for the sole reason that you like animals.

Secondly, as a student you’ve probably got ambitions to travel. No I’m not saying that housesitting will add to your CV, but I think should you decide to take a year out, having spent that year looking after other people’s animals rather than say working in a bar in Melbourne will do more for your CV.

Working with alpacas, which admittedly was a housesitting rarity and might be more common on a wwoofing  website, also gave us several weeks of daily herd animal experience, something that’s often hard to come by.

What kind of experience can I expect?

Before we started out as housesitters, we expected most housesitting jobs to mean walking the dog and feeding the cat, but we’ve found an increasing number of the pets that we’ve looked after have needed medication and treatment. We’ve worked with cats that have needed pills and syrups at specific times throughout the day and alpacas that have needed cream rubbed on their testicles (not my favourite experience) or infections cleaned out (which we actually worked alongside a vet to do). It’s not something we mind doing, but no doubt most pet owners are cautious leaving that kind of responsibility in the hands of just anyone; as a veterinary student or graduate you would no doubt be welcomed with open arms by pet owners whose animals were in these kinds of conditions.

Just a thought.

James

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