House and Pet Sitters
House sitters and pet sitters are a great option for when you go on vacation.
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She felt right at home until the police came.
A slight memory lapse involving the house alarm code left Deedee Lewanski of Knoxville, Tenn., standing in a spotlight of bright headlights, listening to a blaring alarm system.
After sifting through codes in her mind of the many houses she sits, the right combination of numbers finally came.
Knowing how to get a bird out of a house and how to stay calm when a dog comes up missing are tricks of the trade for 22-year-old Lewanski, a University of Tennessee graduate student whose job description includes making herself right at home while homeowners are taking leisurely day trips, seeing the world over the summer or handling family business.
"It's like I am in a bed-and-breakfast; I am taking a vacation myself," said Lewanski of her job. She's accustomed to hunting for the TV remote and the bed that will bring her the best shut-eye when she house-sits.
And she knows that popping up in the middle of the night wondering, "Where am I?" or "What was that noise?" comes with the territory when she takes the keys of a homeowner and makes their house her own.
Mary Mahoney has been trusting her home and golden retriever, Melanie, to someone else for more than a decade when she goes out of town with her husband, Ken. As assistant director of career services at the University of Tennessee, Mahoney said she draws from a pool of students who love animals and are seeking some extra cash.
Many house sitters don't have a standard rate but accept whatever the homeowner is willing to give. In most cases, it tends to be anywhere between $10 and $40 a day, according to local house-sitters.
Homeowners are looking for a responsible house sitter, someone who won't throw a party in your home--one of your most prized possessions, said Mahoney.
"You just don't look someone up in the yellow pages or classifieds," she said.
Even when animals aren't involved, house sitter Geoff Emery said many homeowners just want someone at their house.
Emery has locked himself out of the homes he's sitting on more than one occasion and had to resort to calling homeowners for the whereabouts of a spare key. Still, he thinks his presence provides a peace of mind that an alarm system can't.
"It's having someone to come in and out of the driveway, someone to turn on the lights and get their mail," Emery said.
(Chandra Harris of The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee.)
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