The biggest concern for most people when they go away on holiday is, who is going to look after the pets? People have been known not to take a holiday for up to 20 years for the simple reason that they know they will have no peace of mind leaving the animals behind, being tended by unknown persons.
Pet-lovers need worry no longer, for Town and Country Homesit can find just the right people to look after your animals, either in your city home or out on your rural property.
"People adore their animals, to the extent of having electric blankets for their cat. They are then so relieved and grateful when they find someone to tend their pets while they're away," says Lisa McFarlane, managing director of Town and Country Homesit.
Leaving your pets at home means that they can stay in their familiar environment instead of at a boarding establishment or with relations, and they can keep their normal routines.
The sitters are guaranteed to be experienced with animals and will provide the necessary care for whatever situation arises, whether it be walking dogs or administering medication to pets.
As well as farm animals, the sitters have looked after creatures ranging from turtles and goldfish to llamas and pet magpies.
Of course, the sitters will be doing more that just looking after the pets. You can rest assured they will maintain the presence of someone within your home, thus discouraging potential intruders.
Other household chores, like mail-collection, watering plants, lawn-mowing and forwarding of messages will also be taken care of by the sitters; and Town and Country Homesit can arrange other services, such as gardening, pet-grooming, and window and carpet-cleaning.
Home-sitters will also advise Lisa of any necessary property maintenance or repair, such as burst or leaking pipes, weather damage or electrical problems.
Lisa saw the need for homesitter s in and around Christchurch after she returned 5 ½ years ago from London, where she had been doing graduate recruitment for investment banks.
Having grown up on a farm, and adoring animals, Lisa saw the opportunity to combine these interests with her recruitment experience. In this case, recruiting suitable people to look after homes and pets.
"As there was no service in existence in Christchurch, it seemed like the need for such an organisation was long overdue," Lisa says.
With the help of her mother, Helen, their first home sitter was placed in May 2000, and things have not looked back.
In fact, things have been going so successfully for Lisa, now aged 30, that she was one of 15 in New Zealand recently chosen by the Ministry of Youth Development as an example of a successful young entrepreneur for business school studies to be used in universities and secondary schools.
Town and Country Homesit specialises in city properties and rural lifestyle blocks, and also services larger farms if suitable sitters are available.
The process of finding a suitable housesitter begins with Lisa or Helen coming to your home to assess what sort of person would be best suited to you and your animals.
It is important that you, the sitters and, of course, the pets (if applicable) are all compatible, so that you can feel confident your home and pets are in capable hands.
The sitters, who are usually acquired through word of mouth, are all aged over 30. They are thoroughly screened, police checked and reference-checked. Their situations vary from having just sold a property and waiting to build, to having recently returned from overseas.
Clients pay a one-off registration fee plus a daily animal-minding fee starting at $15, which varies depending on whether it's tending to one small dog, for instance, or a herd of goats. Costs are negotiable for long-term cases.