The first time we met Toby he was eight weeks old, a wriggling bundle of baby fat with tiny, needle-sharp teeth.
A year later when we returned to house sit him, he was a 20kg-plus Staffordshire terrier. Big. Boisterous. Amazingly strong. Jaws impossible to pry apart, especially when they held a pair of your socks (or, worse, the remote control for a ceiling fan!).
But he was still just as loveable — a big baby turned into an even bigger baby.
We originally met Toby’s humans, Hayley and Andrew, and their twins, Caitlyn and Ben, in 2020. They posted a house sit at their home on the Redcliffe Peninsula, just north of Brisbane. We liked them (and loved Toby) immediately, but they had to cancel their travel plans due to Covid-19 restrictions, so our house sit was cancelled. We continued our house and pet sitting journey but decided to stay in touch with this friendly young family.
After a year during which they managed to establish a burgeoning business, they decided they needed a break even more. We waved them off on a month-long caravan trip and that left us a small but comfortable house that was easy to care for … and a Big Toby.
“Staffies” can be intimidating because of their sheer size, but if Toby is typical, they have a beautiful nature, are always “smiling” and are generally friendly when they encounter other dogs and people. And they love a cuddle.
Each evening we would sit on the sofa, or on cushions on the living room floor, and Toby eventually made his way on to a lap. Then his head went on your shoulder and soon you realised he was fast asleep (mainly because he was snoring). Considering his weight, you just had to hope something interesting would pop up on TV because you weren’t going anywhere.
One warning, however: Staffies love to chew anything they can get between their teeth. Having some extremely durable toys for them is highly recommended.
The ceiling fan remote control was the most expensive “victim” during our house sit with Toby, but we came forewarned having lost a $400 pair of sunglasses and a $200 Apple Pencil to dogs during previous house sits.
Being on a peninsula, our house sit with Toby was close to beaches in all directions. We tried to walk Toby early in the morning and at sundown — thus avoiding the Queensland heat where possible — for a total of 8km. He became enthusiastic the second we picked up his car harness and stood obediently while it was fitted. Then he jumped into the back seat of the car and waited to be clipped into a seat belt buckle housing. The minute we drove into a beach car park, he was ready to jump out again.
Apart from his regular collar and lead, Toby also had a “halter” that looped around his face. We tried him with and without, and found the halter had a marked calming effect that stopped him pulling when on the lead. At his weight, it was an advantage to us, and it did not seem to bother him.
All that walking was good for Toby and for us. He walked off some of his excess energy and we got our daily quota of exercise discovering the local beach communities of Redcliffe, Scarborough and Woody Point. Who knew that Redcliffe was where the Bee Gees grew up? Now you can visit Bee Gees Way, a kind of arcade full of memorabilia and information about one of Australia’s most successful pop acts.
The esplanade along the beachfront also boasts a fish and chips shop called Yabbey Road, complete with a larger-than-life cardboard cut-out of the late Beatle John Lennon. The fish and chips weren’t bad either, meaning, of course, that more walking was required the following day.
Kirsty Carter and Lawrie Masterson have completed more than 60 house and pet sits in Australia and around the world since 2018. To read more on their travels you can visit their website: www.housesittingtravellers.com
Like many owners using house sitters for the first time, Karen and Neil were understandably a bit nervous about how it would go however, their fears were put to rest as soon as they met their house sitters.
I found the Aussie House sitters website an excellent means to ensure back to back house sits almost all the time over the 13 months I was sitting. A great service, thank you. Lynnette