Back in Ojai –
For back-to-back house sits right down the block from one another. That was a treat! Our tenth house sit was also a repeat sit with Begonia for a week. It was so nice and easy to slip back into the rhythms and needs of this home and dog.
Nice for him as well, he clearly remembered us and didn’t have to go out on a blind date with new house sitters.
I was still on spring break, so I didn’t have the long commute to work for the first three days. However, after the weekend, a full week of the three-hour commute ensued.
Like a hamster on a treadmill, don’t think about it, get up and leave before 5:00 am – nothing we can do about it. Just get through the rest of the school year and then it is done forever and we’ll ride off into the sunset! Well, at least we’ll drive way up north and into our new life!
A Favor for the Neighbors
There we were with one easy dog to care for when my phone rang. The neighbor down the street (our next house sit) asked if we could watch his two dogs for the afternoon. Oh, and there would be one other dog as well. Of course, we said yes. Now we had four dogs; it wasn’t a big deal. They all knew each other and were well-behaved.
After a bit, we decided we should take them for an afternoon walk. One of these dogs always liked walks, the others sometimes stalled, dilly-dallied, etc. We figured it would be more of a slow stroll.
A Wild Walk
Little did we know that four is the magic number with dogs: two or three and it’s only a group. Four and it’s a pack, and you know what that means: gotta have a leader, an alpha dog, lest all is lost in chaos and confusion. It was fun watching them vie for that spot: me, no me, not you, now me, you’ve had your turn. All that kind of thing.
These little pooches started to change from small, lap dogs into tall greyhounds, all barreling down the sidewalk, dragging us behind. Their twisting and turning started braiding the leashes like in a May Pole dance. We began getting surprised glances from other pedestrians. But it didn’t end there.
The Walk Gets Wilder
We turned a few corners and passed several larger dogs in fenced yards along the street. That brought out something else in the pack, and they added muscle and might and were ready for anything. Pedestrians started heading for the other side of the street, clearing the way for this pack.
The leashes got more and more tangled and somehow got our legs involved. We were playing Twister right there on the sidewalk, trying to stay on our feet. We looked at each other wondering where this was going.
What a Ride!
Finally, the pack turned a corner and ended up in front of the house. They stopped, panting from the running, and quickly turned back into lap dogs, patiently waiting as we opened the gate and went into the yard.
“Did you see that?” “I think I did.” We got the leashes off and had a good laugh, the dogs all had a good nap! Hasn’t happened since and never happened before. And that, friends, was how our afternoon walk went. We guessed it must be all the chakra balancing and spiritual meridian point aligning or something. Strange things happen in Ojai.
No Dogs Allowed
One day we wanted to do something different with our furry friend. We had seen a campground tucked away in the woods and thought that would be a great place for a walk.
We talked it over with Begonia and he agreed, only asking that we bring some treats. He got his leash and jumped up in his car seat: off we went, looking forward to a grand outing.
We arrived, started getting out of the car and that’s when we saw the sign – “No Dogs Allowed.” We broke the news to pooch who hung his head in disappointment. After a moment, he looked up and said “This was your idea, you know. Who says ‘no dogs allowed’ anyway? And what now, Jimbo?”
Where to Next?
“Well, we’ll have to look for another place to walk. I’m sure we can find something.” “I still get the treats, right? I did my part.” We all got back in the car and headed home, feeling a little silly. Lesson learned – check if critters are welcome before you plan a special trip for a dog walk! And always bring treats.
At the end of the house sit, while awaiting the homeowner’s return, she called asking if we could stay an extra hour. Turns out she goes for a massage at a local spa after a day of driving. What a brilliant idea!
Our Next Stop – Three Doors Down
How often can you walk from one house sit to the next? Not too often and it’s unlikely to happen again. It wasn’t even worth packing everything into the car. We did make lots of trips back and forth lugging all our stuff down the sidewalk. The neighbors might have wondered what we were doing, it was a strange sight, we’re sure.
We had visited the house before, so we were familiar with the hosts, the house, and the dogs – they were the two we took for our wild walk. Our hosts were very experienced with house sitters and set us up with explicit instructions for taking care of the animals and the house. They departed very early in the morning before our arrival since they were confident that all would be well.
Another Great Home
The owners had totally remodeled the house and added a rental unit above the garage, an Airbnb type thing. They had a ton of takers since the house was right in the center of town. We enjoyed meeting the guests who came from near and far. Some came for hiking, restaurants, visiting friends, biking events, or conferences, others just for a weekend respite. Ojai is a great getaway spot, and it fills up every weekend!
Two Little Shih Tzus
We were caring for two female Shih Tzus, the smallest dogs we had watched so far. Both were good-natured, laid-back, older dogs. The light-colored dog loved food! She ate quickly and wanted to eat as soon as she woke up. She would sit near her bowl looking up at you saying ‘Come on; I’m hungry.’ The other dog needed some encouragement but would eventually empty her bowl, just not with the relish her friend exhibited.
A great pair of sleepers they were! With favorite places on the patio, in their beds, beneath a table, and on the couch. A well-established routine found them napping right after the morning walk, for a good part of the day, and all night!
Such a Gentle Pair
At night, they slept on the bed with us (at least one of them). They were too small to get up on their own, so would stand and wait for us to lift them, and then it seemed they slept the whole night without moving.
Compared with other dogs, these two did not love walks that much. Long walks were not necessary and not what they usually did with their owners. When we did venture out more than a few blocks, they would find a place to lay down, take a breather and were content to watch whatever was going on around them.
“The House Sitters”
One afternoon we received an email from a friend of our hosts. She asked if we would be interested in house sitting for her soon. She also lived in Ojai. We stopped by for a visit, had a great conversation and agreed to do the house sit for her. Just like that! Referrals sure beat scouring the house-sitting websites for new clients.
A few days later we headed off to the Farmer’s Market and ran into that homeowner. While we were chatting, friends of hers approached, and she introduced us as “The House Sitters.” Her friends asked for our business cards (oh, there’s an idea).
Of course, we didn’t have any, but we took a phone number. A few days later we met at their home and agreed to do their house sit. Boy, oh boy, is this town ever filled with people who love to travel, have great homes, and great pets! It works for us!
Jim and his Bicycle
Jim enjoyed riding his bike around Ojai, and when I was at work; it was his only mode of transportation. Most of his bike rides were around town, sometimes for shopping, others just to get out and about a bit.
He loved to see the neighborhood from that perspective and at that speed as you see things you never see from a car, and you meet lots of other bikers. Ojai is a great town for two wheelers: bikes all over the place.
Getting Around Town
Many times, he went out east past the citrus farms and turned up north into the hills. That made for some serious (for him) huffing and puffing rides. Early on he found a trail that was perfect for him and his bike. The Shelf Trail, which goes along the north side of Ojai, up in the hills past all the houses. The payoff to riding uphill was a remarkable view of the valley and then getting to coast all the way home!
Soon enough the homeowners returned from their bicycle trip down the Mississippi River and off we went back to the Los Angeles area. We were saying goodbye to our friends and Ojai but not for long as we were returning in a couple of weeks for another house sit.
What’s Next – 10 Essential Items
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