The Family That House And Pet Sits Across The Globe - Gary & Laura's Story

By Liam Beauchamp-Jones | Family

Laura O’Grady and her partner Gary Shiels and their family from Bridgend in Wales joined TrustedHousesitters community last summer with the hope of broadening their children’s horizons. Laura and Gary have fostered seven children over the years and now have two long term foster children and two birth children living with them.

They loved it so much they completed six consecutive house sits in the summer of 2017 and after receiving five star reviews each time in their very first year, they have become one of the most popular and successful new family community members.

Laura said: “I decided to try housesitting site after a friend suggested it is a great way to travel the world. My partner and I have always been animals lovers, with five older children between us and our two foster children,  our household is very experienced at looking after all sorts of pets, from goldfish and guinea pigs to dogs and horses. We love animals and are all intrinsically caring by nature. House and pet sitting seemed like perfect fit and a wonderful opportunity to enrich the lives of the children in our care.”

This was a perfect match for Laura and her pet loving family, who loved the idea that house sitting gives them an affordable way to see the world and parts of the UK they hadn’t visited, while gaining unique insights into different regions, cultures and communities. 

Laura explains that her foster children, many of whom have learning difficulties, thrive in these new environments where they can climb trees, explore rambling gardens and enjoy family barbeques together, doing things they’d not normally be able to do at home.

Laura added: “The responsibilities of caring for the animals on the house sits, which unconditionally love them back, is incredibly rewarding for the children and gives such a sense of purpose. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, the boys were even arguing over whose turn it was to muck out the ponies because they loved it so much!”

“Chicken sitting is a particular favourite of ours, the children love egg collecting and learn so much about being self-sufficient and where food comes from, it’s something that can be hard to teach, but is so easy to learn as an experience.” Laura goes on to say “ We are incredibly grateful to the homeowners for giving our family such wonderful opportunities and adventures.”

Laura , Gary and thier family, Olivia and Elijah and two foster children, have house sat in the UK as well as Europe, travelling to Lancaster, Brecon, Bath and Evesham as well as The Netherlands (taking in a trip to Germany) and Switzerland (taking time out to visit Italy).

Of all their adventures as sitters, Laura fell in love with Switzerland the most and the family has become friends with the home owner so they hope to arrange another house sit in the same house next year. 

“A particularly favourite memory was taking the children across the border to Italy and hiring a speed boat on Lake Como, which will be a life-long memory,” added Laura.

When asked about travel pledge for 2018, Laura mentions more travel within Europe where her family can experience new cultures, they are definitely hooked on housesitting!

We asked Laura what her top tips for starting house and pet sitting are, and this is what she had to say :

1.  Apply for a lot of sits to start with and don’t be fussy, this will build you profile
2.  Start local to get the swing of it
3. Leave the house as you found it or ideally, better!
4.  Go the extra mile, bake a cake or meal for when the homeowners come back, if you think they would be happy cut the grass, even if it’s not a task you’d been asked to do
5.  Take pictures and videos of the pets and keep the homeowner updated while they are away. This will help to reassure them and give them a stress free holiday. They will want to use you again!
6.  Give a de-brief hand over when leaving so the home owner is fully informed on their pets’ holiday

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