Where art thou Romeo?
The unexpected wonder of pet sitting is trying a different life for a while in a new location but with the benefit of living like a local whilst taking care of a four, or as in our current sit, a three legged friend.
Our pet sitting adventures have given us the opportunity to develop relationships with lots of new people, animals and places. We are meeting some wonderful people and their pets, whilst living in beautiful homes that are in locations that we would happily live long term.
We used to compile spreadsheets or attend sales meetings but now our days include a walk along the river or the beach with our three legged friend followed by a coffee stop in a canine friendly cafe.
We are in Ballina which is a town in the northern New South Wales. Known as the Northern Rivers, this area is one of our favourite Australian coastal locations with miles of unspoiled beaches and cute villages surrounded by rolling countryside filled with macadamia and coffee farms.
There’s a real sense of community in the area with lots of like minded people. There are farmers markets selling real food, there are lots of venues with live music, numerous yoga and fitness studios, and some of the best restaurants and cafes in the country.
Our latest pet sit is for Romeo, he’s a seven year old rescue dog who has three legs and one eye, but a huge heart. An American tourist commented as she walked by us “My gawd, that dog has been seriously challenged.” We let her know that he was a very content and very happy little dog who lives life to the full.
From our experience with Romeo, we believe that he considers himself to be no different to any other dog, just cuter. He really embraces life and all it has to offer, especially duck strips, river walks and bird chasing, oh, and getting comfy on someones lap.
Dinner for three
We celebrated Christmas with Romeo with a dinner in the garden, he loves to be part of the action at all times. As we tucked into a prawn cocktail Romeo enjoyed an antipasto plate of mini chicken treats, a duck strip and an oven baked dog biscuit, this was all washed down with a slurp from his water bowl.
The BIG post Christmas weigh in
As a pet sitter it’s important to ensure the animals stay healthy and that we follow the requests of the owners. Maree, our current owner, asked if we could take Romeo to his vet for his regular weigh in. Romeo led us from the car to the vets door, he’d obviously been there before and had no problems going again. He quickly popped onto the scales, which certainly cater for much bigger dogs. He weighed in at 4.5kg, 100g up on his previous weight. He had of course enjoyed Christmas and all the treats that two new pet sitters had supplied to him!
Out and about with the little fella
Romeo’s favourite word is “walkies”, we have to be very careful in our discussions as to when we use it as he gets very excited about going out. He’s a very social dog and loves mingling in the local bars and cafes, he especially likes a sundowner at The Point bar on the river.
He loves being the centre of attention, he’s very popular with children and is constantly petted on his daily excursions, they think he’s a pup due to his small size.
He doesn’t like communal dog bowls in cafes, he only drinks from his own bowl back home. Dog parking? No way, not when there’s two laps to sit on!
Romeo loves a walk along the beach or the river and having a cooling dip in the water. Unfortunately he then gets relegated to the back seat of the car on the trip home, which he’s never too pleased about.
Pulling on the heart strings
In one of her messages Maree asked if Romeo was missing her. So we decided to take the little guy to the local airport to get a few pics of him waiting for them to return home. We then sent the photos to Maree, there’s nothing quite like getting the emotions and tears flowing!
We had dinner with Trish and Mike, two owners that we sat for in October. Benson and Ted, their two dogs, hadn’t seen us since October, but they went wild with joy as we arrived. Trish said only family members get that kind of reception! We will be sitting for them again next October, which we are very excited about.
As part of our pet sitting international growth strategy we joined Trusted House Sitters! They offer pet sits around the world, whereas our current website is just Australian based.
On day one we confirmed our first sit on the new site, but not quite as global as we were hoping for, it was in East Ballina! In fact a whole 7km from where we were pet sitting, so we popped over for a coffee and a chat with Cheryl and Ron and met their beautiful Labrador, Chardy and confirmed their sit.
On top of that though, in our first week on the new site we have gone truly global and confirmed our first UK summer house sits with three weeks in Devon and two weeks in Surrey. We are now considering un chien en France, however we are unsure as to whether they will understand us.
And so the sun sets on our four weeks with little Romeo, he’s totally stolen our hearts, it’s been an occasion where two have become three! It’s been a great experience where we have had time to really discover Ballina and it’s surrounds with the help of little Romeo, we will really miss him.
Next stop, Port Macquarie, four hours south of here to look after Meg, an independent cat, for two weeks.
Here’s some of the things that are right up our boulevard in and around Ballina
Our favourite bar, The Point, on the river in central Ballina. It’s also a favourite with Romeo as he could happily sit on the outdoor terrace and watch the sun set.
The excellent local micro brewery, very handy for the airport, as it’s a 100m walk across from the small terminal building!
The Bangalow and Ballina farmers markets are full of the best seasonal and local foods.
Ballina has a surprisingly good coffee and cafe scene, our favourites are Two Hands, Scirocco, Belle General, Belle Central and Coffee With a Purpose. Romeo was a big fan of them all too, especially as he could happily sit outdoors at all of them.
Shelter, in Lennox Head, is a fantastic local restaurant, across the road from the beach. It won a Sydney Morning Herald hat in 2018. We loved it, excellent food and the first restaurant we’ve seen where a vegan can order three courses of delicious food.
Ballina has some great seafood, being on the coast and river. Each night trawlers can be seen going out. Our favourite supplier is Northern Rivers Seafood
The fabulous Yoglates studio with the superb instructors, Louise, Bec, Elodie, Tracey and Olive. Bec’s Barre class is a must, especially if you like to shake your tale feather!