About Us

Johanne y Doug


House and Pet Sitters Extraordinaire



    A Christmas Day Toast, Tepoztlan, MX.


      *Reliable          *Resourceful

       *Flexible          *Experienced

  *Caring            *Energetic

hsa-graduates-badge We are committed to providing the best house/ pet sitting experience possible.


Doug is from Niagara Falls, Ontario and Johanne from Montréal, Quebec. After many diverse adventures and experiences we found each other in 2011 and  continued to live out our dreams in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

On February 6th, 2016 we sealed our love in marriage, and set upon our new path together.


Crescent Beach Pier


Our Dreams

We are very excited about this new phase of our lives and are eager to find house and pet sitting situations where we can be helpful and apply the skills that we share. We find it very fulfilling to assist  home owners by providing them with the assurance that their home, pets and property will be well cared for while they are away.

We both have explored the globe widely and our acquired experience ensures that we are able to easily adjust to  a variety of situations. We are well aware and accepting of the fact that local comfort levels vary widely.

We strongly believe in community and we have a sincere desire to contribute in a positive manner to the areas we visit. Hopefully we will leave places we visit just a little better off than before we arrived.

We travel light and are able to work around your dates and needs. We prefer to over lap our stay a few days ahead of your departure to become familiar with your home and pets.

We are very pleased to offer pet care tailored to your animals needs such as medications, special diets, exercise etc.

Our Services

Staying healthy is extremely important to us both, we are non smokers and have no bad habits. ( Johanne does savior an occasional glass of wine with dinner and Doug really likes peanut butter gelato). We take enjoy every opportunity to hike, swim and be out in nature.

House sitting assignments in remote locations are always considered.


Our Past Lives

We have spent many long and glorious hours cruising the B.C. coast on our 36 ft Islander sailboat: Swan. Being on the water has taught us to adapt and to calmly handle critical situations as they sometimes arise. Doug is also a Canadian Yachting Association Sailing Instructor, and has had major offshore experience.



Johanne devoted her career to child care working in and managing Childcare Centers in California and Vancouver. Her calm and ever cheerful personality served her very well in this field. 

Doug  built a very successful career a real estate consultant and in management. He has also built sail boats, houses and was the Lead Surveyor on  Vancouver’s rapid transit system.

Skill Sets

Johanne, being totally bilingual (French and English) is also functional in Spanish; Doug is determined! We study every day, building our vocabulary and practice whenever the opportunity arises. “Poco a poco”.

AJoJohanne is very good with all animals and has lovingly cared for many different pets over the years. Doug loves taking the dogs for long walks.

We both enjoy landscaping, gardening, and Doug has experience in wood framing, concrete work,  simple finishing and basic electrical and plumbing.



Doug is a long time dedicated Rotarian and has had the pleasure of serving as President of two very successful Rotary Clubs. ” Being a Rotarian provides me with the opportunity of contributing to others in a small way, even as we live aboard”.

He was formerly a  Board Member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Langley and as a youth mentor was a positive role model to kids.


Our Introduction Video


Drop us a note and to determine if we are the best fit for your house and pet sitting needs.

Skype is also a great way to become acquainted.

References and Criminal Record Reports are available.

Cheers and Cheese!


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San Miguel de Allende – A peak inside


Johanne and I are always curious as to what lies just beyond the many intriguing doors of the great colonial cities we visit.


The historical district of San Miguel de Allende, with it’s estimated 2,000 doors, offers us daily glimpses into what lies beyond. The city has lots of fine examples of Baroque colonial architecture, many of which have been restored to their former state. 



Of course the original purpose of the door was to keep the elements, both natural and human, on the other side. As time progressed and wealthy families moved in, the size the doors grew and detail became more elaborate.



Handcrafted ironwork and hewn wood were often used for doors and elaborate stone work formed the entrance. Additional ornamentation declared the social status of the occupants.


The fine detail on the brass knocks and hardware is marvelous.




The courtyards beyond the entries lend themselves nicely to modern uses. Enchanting restaurants, romantic hotels and galleries can be discovered with a closer look.


We have learned to politely ask:” Podemos mirar, por favor?” We are always welcomed to have a look around.



Just beyond the door would be an alcove where home owners would greet  visitors. Of course, first impressions would be critical. Entry ways were grand and would feature ornate light fixtures and furniture.



For us, it is the courtyard that is especially intriguing; the inner sanctuary where daily life would be played out.

You never know what is just beyond on a door.


Doors come in all shapes and sizes.

This one uses a bicycle chain ring for a knocker:DSCN1547

Of-course not every door has been lovingly cared for and there are always a project for those interested in a restoration !!


San Miguel de Allende is definitely worth a visit. Be certain to bring your camera and take a peek just beyond the door.


joyful travellers







Tepoztlan, MX – Daily Goose Bumps

The joyful travellers have put their bags down in the charming pueblo of Tepoztlan one hour south of Mexico City.


We are experiencing daily “Goose Bump Moments” as we wander through this charming community.



life-sized mural made of seeds and grains

Because of it’s natural beauty, cultural riches, and historical relevance, Tepoztlna has been deemed a “Pueblo Magico” by the Mexican Government.


The surrounding mountains are rich with Quartz deposits and many of the 14,000 inhabitants believe that the area holds special healing powers.It is a mecca for “New Agers” that come to bask in the valleys healing energies; maybe they are onto something.



Certainly the blue bird sky, the mountain air and high elevation have a serene  and calming effect. The pace is very tranquillo.



The area was first populated by the Aztecs 1,200 years ago and several indigenous traditions still exist today.  Nachuatl, the native language of Montezuma, is still taught in the schools.


There is an abundance of veggie options for us at dozens of restaurants in town. But it is the open market in el centro that really brings on those goose bumps. It is like a sprawling health food store where we find: an amazing assortment of organic fruits and veggies, cheeses, grains and nuts, spices and other wonderful delights.


The Aztecs were also aware of the health effects of chia and cacao which is cheap and abundant (see recipe below).




Doug is particularly thrilled with the vendors plying huge sacks of fresh delicious peanuts in the shell -more goosebumps.


But mostly Tepoztlan is the sort of place where each venture into  town or into the hills bring on a new and wondrous discovery.


Buses to and from Mexico City’s Taxquena Terminal are plentiful and comfortable.


Johanne’s Mother’s Magic Chia Recipe

This marvelous super food pudding can be eaten as is or combined with your favourite berries.

  • 1/3 cup Chia seeds
  • 2 cups of Almond Milk
  • 2 TBS of agave or maple syrup (to taste)
  • splash of natural vanilla extract

Mix well and refrigerate over night. May require occasional stirring.


joyful travellers

Rotary Helps Out in Panama

Escuela Buena Esperanza (Good Hope School) Bocas del Toro, Panama is very grateful for the supplies that the Rotary e Club Canada One Peace Initiative recently donated.



The school of 3 rooms is in a village of about 200 people. There are no roads, electricity or internet. Access is by boat only – mostly dug-out canoes which are hand paddled.


The government does send some pens and paper, but the Rotary donation of teaching aids and additional supplies was greatly appreciated.




Classes stop at grade six and very few children are able to travel to the next grades. The middle school is 1 hour by boat and fuel is expensive.

Neighbouring expats are hoping to raise the $1,500/year it would take to operate a boat for students.


Donations from Rotary Canada One


Shopping for the supplies involved a boat ride to town to the one and only store that had school supplies. It was like a very basic dollar store and what they offered was limited. The staff were  helpful and the proprietor generously  contributed two packages of paper.



Our shopping was very well received and will go a long ways to help Roberto teach his students.

The kids love to sing and they proudly sang the Panamanian National Anthem for us.


Lots of smiling faces.

Thank You Rotary e Club Canada One, and all those who helped make it work :

Johanne, Roberto(the teacher), President Lynne and Nishchint Bajaj

joyful travellers


The Tranquility That is Bocas del Toro

There is so much to be said about Bocas – our time here has been remarkable, magical and memorable!!


What seems to be most striking is the quiet that predominates our days. It is not quiet as in no sound,  the jungle is alive with birds, monkeys, frogs and more. It is a tranquility which has it’s own sound – more than just quiet. The pervasive silence sets the backdrop that allows the natural world to be truly heard. We hear with different ears, we see with new eyes and we smell with new noses. It is an awareness, an awe.

The morning after a rain, the aroma of jasmine is absolutely lush. It is as if standing  wrapped in the fragrance. Every time you look up there is something remarkable you hadn’t noticed the last time you looked. Did those brilliant red flowers just bloom, how could I have not seen them before?



We are certainly very spoiled as the property that we are caring for is a botanical wonder. It was carved out of a jungle hillside overlooking a Caribbean Bay. Toucans, parrots, monkeys, sloths, green frogs, red frogs and dolphins are all regular guests.  The jungle supplies us with fresh oranges for juice, lemons the size of softballs, four different varieties of bananas and pure organic cacao. (We are learning the value of cacao nibs as a super food).



Maybe some photos will help to illustrate what I can not seem to put into words. There are only so many adjectives for incredible.


















There are tiny communities scattered around this intricate archipelago. The inhabitants are here for each other when needed, yet forever at a distance. Visiting requires a boat trip and it is always WP (weather permitting). It is an intriguing mix of expats that are drawn to this lifestyle. They reside beside the natives that have made this region home for generations.

There is a definite spirit to the place!

The sense of being off the grid is very profound, we are  a long ways from any grid out here! This isn’t like going to the cottage for the weekend.


We are so absolutely fortunate because we are spending 6 weeks on a property that is the jewel of the area.

Check out their website to learn how organic cacao is produced:

Green Acres Chocolate Farm


joyful travellers





Farewell To Old Friends

I am coming to a point where I must say goodbye to an old friend and emotions are welling up.DSCF5326

It is a pair of friends actually, they are my trusty and often dusty TEVA – Omniums sports sandals.

They have served me so well and we have shared some amazing adventures.

Teva, the creators of my sandals, claim it is the Atomic Footbed, 20mm of Hi-tech composite that makes them so damn wonderful. But I know that it is much more than that; when you have shared so much together it becomes personal.

Together we have scampered up the mountain trail to the old logger’s cabin at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet in BC. The trip down was particularly tricky and my trusty friends held fast, through mud and over sharp rocks.

Much of their souls were left on the deck of another beloved friend, the sailing yacht Swan. Fiberglass non-skid decking of a sail boat is coarse and unkind to ordinary footwear. My Omniums were not ordinary footwear! They bravely held their place when the weather soured, keeping me forever safe and on board when seawater swashed over the decks and angles were a challenge.

Together we have ventured to some wonderful locations from the extreme to the sublime. I reminisce of the times I sported my sandals through the plush mossy highlands of Otovalo, Ecuador, or the rugged off-road trails of Omepete Island, Nicaragua.


Recently, a bath of sweat and salt water has rendered my dear friends rather odious. Stinky in fact, to the point of being rather offensive. Fear not, with a bucket of warm water and a generous dose of Central American All Purpose cleaner, it is mountain freshness once again. I can only hope that when the day arrives that I become this offensive, there will be friends near and dear that will know the proper remedy.

So when the time comes and the last mile is shared, what will be the fitting final resting for my tired companions?

A burial at sea? Tacked to a tree?

To be unceremoniously tossed onto a landfill somewhere seems so heartless and empty.
Omniums you have served me so well; I will sadly shuffle off to the mall, longing to discover a new pair of loyal friends.




the joyful travellers

Our 4 Legged Clientele

As of September 2017, Johanne and I have had the pleasure to care for:

43 dogs, 17 cats, a turtle, a tortoise, various birds, chickens and turkeys.

Click here to see our Happy Gang.


We have certainly learned about a variety of breds and their unique behavior. We have enjoyed every opportunity that has come our way.

Thank you from our hearts to the home owners that have given us their trust.

joyful travellers

Of Pillow Tops and Coffee

Johanne and I have been house and pet sitting for 18 months now and we love every moment. It has its challenges but they a minuscule compared the joys we are experiencing.


So don’t get me wrong I would not change our lifestyle for anything. I do however want to share with you two things, that when combined, add a sense of pure luxury to any house sit: a fluffy- soft pillow top mattress and fresh local coffee.

Now we have learned that “fluffy-soft” and “fresh” are relative in nature. Much like: “no mosquitoes here” and “my dogs never bark”, these terms are subject to wide interpretation.

Let me paint for you my perfect house sit. The owners have left us the keys to their clean and comfortable home; they will be away six weeks. The fridge is full of fresh local fruits and veggies, the private pool is just a few steps from the living area.


The delightful pets are low maintenance and a joy to care for. Getting the picture?

Morning sunlight warms my face and a soothing ocean breeze ruffles the curtains. We are lying on a cloud, a king sized cloud at that. Down filled pillows cradle our heads. As we arise, there are no stiff joints or cramped muscles, our entire beings have been thoroughly replenished. Waking on a cloud brings a smile to my existence.

Into the kitchen we glide where the day begins. With care and attention, exotic local coffee beans are ground to perfection. By a simple process their richness is turned into liquid gold and my senses come alive with anticipation.

Pouring the elixir into mugs turns whole milk a lovely teak. The aroma is divine!!

Johanne and I settle on soft chairs and marvel at our surroundings. We hold hands and clasp our prized mugs with the other. Full bodied, full-sized (Vancouver sized) cups of java. Simple indulgence at its fullest.

We share our dreams and contemplate the day in front of us. It is a moment to appreciate the fullness of life. A life so rich that I ask for a top up! On many days it is served with a slice of homemade banana bread. A few simple pleasures have turned this perfect house sit to extraordinary.

I raise my coffee mug to you and hope that all of your future sits are filled with fluffy-soft luxury.

joyful travellers

A Tale of Two Geckos – The Book

Doug’s long anticipated book is:

Now on amazon.com

Click Here

for Canadians amazon.ca

Click here

What readers are saying:

“This book is a must read for everyone desiring to change their lives and pursue their dreams. I’ll have to re-read it over and over again. These two courageous geckos did it!”


“I predict the Geckomana will take off as  the new trend after reading this book”


“I was just going to read one chapter and get back to what I was doing…I couldn’t put it down.
“Life’s Inspiration” written with love, honesty and experience. Loved it!”

Doug Book Cover


It is our story about how we transformed our lives and is written to entertain and encourage readers to consider the changes they would like in their lives.

Please enjoy our story and kindly share it with a friend.

joyful travellers

Celebrating Our 1st Year as Nomads

April 7th – As of today Johanne and I have been slow travelling throughout Latin America for 1 year.

It has been a fabulous experience- the best year on record.DSC03764


We have lived on the rim of a volcanic craterDSC01736 - Copy

come to experience wonderful Colonial Cites:

Aboulivard - CopyDSC04089








swam on deserted beaches in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and in pristine cenotes.


DSC03812 We have climbed Mayan Pyramids and gazed down the throat of el diablo.DSCF4279




We even took a break to honeymoon in Cuba:


We have met hundreds of people along the way and have  nurtured many lasting friendships that we value immensely.

the joyful travellers


DSC01816 (2)



Discovering Quintana Roo, Mexico

Although I have been in Mexico more than a dozen times I always find pleasant new surprises. It is a country so rich in history and interesting geography.

Currently we are vising Quintana Roo, the state that forms the eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula.



According to the guide books Chetumal was suppose to  be a place that was not worth visiting however Johanne and I found it to be most enjoyable. It is very safe and largely overlooked by the Cancun crowd.


Clean and quiet a wonderful malacon stretching for miles along the Caribbean shore.


How can you not love a place that  has a statue of Bob Marley?


Bacalar, Pueblo Magico is our next stop, a small town perched on an stunning fresh water laguna.


The laguna is 42 KMs long and fed from  below by two deep water cenotes.


Bacalar is rich with history from the days when pirates lurked in the mangroves raiding the Spanish settlements.

The Spanish built a fort here in the 1700’s which was later captured and held by Mayan rebels in the Caste Wars.





Great food and affordable accommodation are abundant.





Cenote swimming


We are very pleased that we took time to visit this often ignored corner of the peninsula.


joyful travellers