Where the Wild Things Are

a house atop a hill

From the knoll on the property

Our House Sit in the Hills!

One day while searching through the housesitting websites, I saw a posting on one of the house sitting websites and after looking at the photos simply had to apply. We didn’t need to cover the dates, but the place seemed like a treasure not to be missed. It was one of those listings that I felt sure we were supposed to do.

Thank goodness it worked out, and we got to spend time at this true Shangri-La! Our third house sit, the one in Malibu, was right on the ocean with terrific views in a massive home.

This house was on eight acres in the hills of Topanga. It sat high above the valley on the top of the mountain and had a 240-degree view – two valleys, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. It was a stunning piece of property!

The only downside to our time here was that cell reception was feeble. We did find a few spots in the house where it could get through, but it was a hassle.

a view of a valley from the top of a mountain

From the driveway looking east

More About the House

It was a three-story house that the owners had mostly built themselves. It wasn’t what one might call fancy, more down-home type and very comfortable. The kitchen window looked out over the canyons to the ocean and was a lovely place to wash dishes! Every room felt large and roomy, and many had views to die for if you enjoy mountain views. Books and art everywhere – the house of an art scholar – seriously.

There was also a large patio that wound around the house. There were quite a few pathways dug out of the hill and one long one that went to a knoll overlooking the mountains. 

The owners spent years landscaping the place with a mixture of large and small bushes and trees. Hundreds of succulents and cactus, big and small, adorned the patio – all very thirsty in the Southern California sun. Wait, there is more! 

very large patio with potted plants and trees

Part of the west-facing back patio

The Garden 

Down one level (about 100 feet down) was a huge garden, it was covered (even the top) with wire to keep it safe from critters. At one corner there was a passion flower plant that had grown up and around and on top of the wire and partially shaded a large portion of the garden. 

Jim thinks that thing must have covered 1,000 square feet! (I spent a lot of time removing exclamation points from our posts since they say you are not supposed to use them very often – but too bad. On this post we need them!)

The garden had quite a variety of greens so we could pick all we wanted for shakes and dinner. There were also corrals but apparently, the horses stay on a different property.

view over mountains to the ocean

From the patio, that’s the ocean in the background

Building Muscles

Now for the fun part – the properties up there did not get city water. A truck came once a week to fill everyone’s huge water tank. That meant – you guessed it – there were no sprinklers!

To say that watering the plants and the garden was a massive undertaking is not an exaggeration. We were to do a significant portion of it but not all as the housekeeper did a large share as well. Our part took about two hours every morning – all the patios and the garden. I have it on good authority that to do the whole property takes a minimum of six hours, no joke.

There were quite a few long hoses scattered around the property, but pulling a 100-foot hose is hard work. The weather was perfect, no crippling heat, so most of the time it was great fun. 

trees and hills

Looking south to the ocean

The Creatures in Our Care

This property had a long driveway down to the house. When you approach in your car, the welcome team comes to greet you – three large dogs, all excited to see who is arriving. As sweet as can be and huge! What was truly wonderful to see, these dogs had acres and acres to roam. No fences, no hyperactivity, just free to be dogs! What a gift.

The shyest of the bunch was a Bloodhound/Shepherd mix. He had those droopy sad-looking eyes. The only male in the group, he didn’t seem to be so very fond of his companions; no fights or anything just keeping mostly to himself. 

bloodhound shepherd mix dog

The only male – and so gentle

For the first couple of days, he often came close for affection but stayed on his own most of the time. Once I started inviting him for affection he loved it and was more social and super loving.

He loved lying out on the driveway and keeping watch and eating. His food bowl was kept just outside the door, and he was a voracious eater, but very calm and quiet about everything even his food.

bloodhound/shepherd mix lying on a dog bed

Boy, was he a gentle guy

Dog Number Two

The smallest of the group, a female Border Collie mix. She was the human follower and always wanted to be close and made sure of it by following me everywhere all the time. Very well-mannered except when it came time to share the human, then she got a bit pushy with her friends.

This girl was a finicky eater as described by her owner. She was often given extra additions to her food so she would eat.

shepherd mix dog standing

She loved people

I mostly just sat on the floor by her bowl staying close and inviting her to eat. As long as I stayed right there, the dog would eat most of the food most of the time. 

Funny thing, though, when a human was sitting and eating at the table, she was the only dog sitting right there hoping for that one dropped morsel.

shepherd mix dog lying on a dog bed

Resting in the bedroom and always close.

Dog Number Three

The third dog was a huge female Great Dane/Mastiff mix. She belonged to the owner’s daughter but was here for a few months while her master traveled.

She was comfortable at the house and with the other two dogs, and oh, my goodness was she ever sweet. At first glance, she might look scary, but she was adorable and friendly. Gentle as a lamb and very calm. Just a treasure, she loved affection and of course, had no idea how big she was and that she couldn’t fit in most places. A gentle giant to be sure.

a mottled great dane lying on a carpet

I was absolutely in love with her!

She had just had minor eye surgery, so we needed to administer eye drops four times a day. She resisted slightly, who wouldn’t? No one wants anyone else anywhere near their eye. 

I spent a lot of time down on the ground petting and playing with these three lovers. When all three lie down, they take up most of a room. They did fight each other for human attention at times – not growling and biting, but a bit of pushing and nudging.

a great Dane lying in a human lap

She was the sweetest thing!

The Dormitory

When their owners were home, the dogs slept upstairs just outside the master bedroom. Those dog beds filled the entire space! Since our accommodation was a downstairs bedroom, I brought some dog beds in with me, and all three slept in there. They did not want to be upstairs by themselves all night. They also slept in there during the day sometimes – hence the photo. 

three large dogs sleeping in a room

All sleeping after breakfast

In addition to the dogs, the house came with two conure parrots that made quite a racket all day long. There were also many wild birds to feed outside. Quail and Finches by the dozens gathered at the feeder for breakfast each morning – what a sight and sound!

This was a perfect place to spend time, and we loved our days at this house. Nature everywhere, friendly creatures, very peaceful and close to anything you might need in Los Angeles! What a find.

great Dane licking woman's face

One of my all-time favorites!

What’s Next – Up to Portland we go!

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