Loneliness can often plague short-term or long-term expats. Even after 30 years of living abroad one can sometimes feel cast adrift away from family, familiar surroundings and old friends. I grew up on a farm and was always used to having animals around. Animals were just as much a part of the family as we humans were, so the lack of a pet has left me slightly bereft. I travel quite a bit so a full-time pet never seemed practical. Short-term expats may hesitate to take a pet because of the possible quarantine laws of a future country, or the wrench of saying goodbye after a posting abroad is over. So how excited was I when I discovered Stichting Oopoeh Ouderen Passen op een Huisdier. ‘The Elderly look after a pet’. Well, I’m not exactly elderly but I am over 55 years old so eligible to join the site. This is another great sharing economy idea, although unlike Airbnb and Uber I can’t imagine that anyone will be up in arms about this concept undercutting established businesses, unless it’s professional dog walkers of course…
I do love Jack Russells
My family have had Jack Russells for many years and Jack Russells are lively, affectionate, tough and not very vocal dogs. Living so hugger mugger like we do in my neighbourhood a yappy dog would be a real nuisance. So after finding the Oopoeh website I quickly posted a photo, wrote up my profile and scoured the site for Jack Russells in my neighbourhood. My heart was very quickly taken by a seven-year-old JR, named Rakker (Rascal). Stichting Oopoeh mediate the initial contact, only giving out phone numbers when both parties had been approached and a meeting was arranged.
Oopoeh’s fantastic ad
After meeting my chosen dog’s owner and a rather invigorating visit to her local park where I discovered that Rakker loved just about anyone who would throw a ball for him, we agreed to me dog-sitting once a week. Rakker’s ‘Mum’ drops him off on her way to work and picks him up at around 6pm and his day is filled with at least two trips to the park, maybe a car ride to the beach and an obligatory swim in salt of freshwater! He comes equipped with dog food, ball, lead, towel, chewy, indoor toy, as it’s a principle of the site that the dog-sitter makes no expenditure for the care of the pet. (Ssshh don’t tell anyone but we have bought him a ball-thrower, doggy treats and I’ve got my eye on a fleece-lined basket. Who knew that urban dogs came with so many retail opportunities?)
Rascal’s My Name and Swimming’s my Game
The first afternoon he spent with us he pined quite a lot and kept running to the door expecting his mum to come back. But now after five visits, he goes straight to our front door after he gets out of the bicycle basket and bounds up the stairs all doggy smiles and wags. We are blessed with a large, dog-friendly park just across the canal from where we live and also there is a special place where dogs can swim. Rakker’s favourite pastime is retrieving balls from the canal! Another upside is that dogs are an enormous ice-breaker and before you know it you are chatting away to other dog walkers or just about anyone who likes the look of the dog.
So if you want de lieve maar niet de lasten, (the love but not the labour) of dog ownership, then Stichting Oopoeh might be for you. You don’t necessarily need to be over 55, young people are eligible to become dog-sitters too, it’s just that older people get first dibs if two people are interested in one dog. Similar sites exist all over the globe, borrowmydoggy in the UK. Just do a quick Google and there is probably one in your country too!