Before Cooper and I set off on this house and pet sitting adventure, our intention was to be surrounded by dogs. Humbled by our experiences along the way, we have learnt eye-opening facts on how to properly rehome a dog. Our biggest lessons came in Malta, and we want to share with you here.
A family of rehomed dogs
In Malta we cared for nine dogs on our house sit. Geoff and Theresa initiated us into their family as Cooper and I each took hold of our own set of pooches. We got to understand their routines and personalities, and a highlight of each day was, of course, walk time!
Each morning in a flurry of excitement, fur babies of all shapes and sizes danced around the kitchen. Collars and leads were attached, although I can’t say patience is a strength of these cheeky dogs.
I took 12 year old Smudge – food lover, Dalmatian cross, big personality. In my other hand I had little Spike, the dog with nine lives, and old soul Eliza, mum to the fox terriers Cooper was handling, Christa and Giselle.
Geoff and Theresa showed us the ropes before they went away. Fearful giant Zula went with Geoff. We likened her to the lion who had lost courage. He also had ‘the Queen’, Amy, a type of woolly Sicilian sheep dog.
Our ‘dog whisperer’ Theresa, would wait behind and bring her two special rescued dogs. Rusty is just a pup, simply terrified; and Percy, a Dachshund mix, won’t look at anyone but Theresa.
We’d need to get to understand their characters before tackling these walks on our own. I’m pleased to say we did master it.
Navigating ‘Cat Alley’
Geoff and Theresa led the charge on the first few days we were all together. Determined to learn, we followed their instructions. Each day our dogs would go to the field behind their home, to play together and with other rehomed dogs.
Getting to the field meant navigating Cat Alley. Now that’s an adventure.
We’d all leave the house, one set of pups at a time, keeping an eye out for cars coming past the front door on the narrow road outside.
Spike doesn’t like motorbikes – he tries to attack them.
I had to learn quickly:
That a dog on a lead chasing motorbikes means all dogs I am holding onto will get tangled up!
If you’ve got a strong pup you need to be careful they don’t get away and run in front of a car. Use your good arm 👍
I also learned the hard way that my finger kept slipping on the ‘release’ button on the lead. This meant my leads would extend at exactly the time I didn’t want my dogs running away from me! Rookie errors.
Out the door: under 20 seconds ’til we’d turn the corner.
The Malta sun blazed upon us, even at this early hour. I’d see Cooper and Geoff ahead, core strength at work as they held onto their sets for dear life.
Welcome to Cat Alley, where the dogs go crazy. Christa and Giselle especially, their little frames finding tiger-like strength each day, as they dragged forth, onward towards their nemesis.
Cats on car tops glaring down, or scaling trees, scoffing at our spectacle. Then we’d spot them on the road ahead, taunting the dogs! Cat Alley. A dog’s worst nightmare? Or dog owner’s?
The strategy for getting through here was to be quick and strong. As a team, we’d managing our yelping, excited pack, quietly hoping a lead wouldn’t snap, and doing our utmost to prevent the dogs from tangling and running into each other.
Old Smudge would always stop at the most inconvenient time to do his business here too. Honestly if he wasn’t so damn cute… !
Field of dreams
After undoubtedly the most active four minutes of the day, our double-gate entry to the field is in sight!
There’s two gates here for a special reason. Many of the dogs are anxious or hyper-sensitive. So, we bring them into a holding area and shut the outside gate so no-one disappears down Cat Alley and onto the street. Second gate opens, and our group flies into their freedom field.
Theresa, Geoff, Cooper and I put down our leads, fill up water bowls and lead the dogs around the field to play.
A friend of the field, Caroline, gave us a tip:
Always keep walking, don’t let a group of dogs congregate while owners chat and gossip – it can lead to ‘too much excitement’ (or a brawl).
The field, rented by Theresa and Geoff, is an important space that helps dogs socialise and get into a happier frame of mind.
Sicily is about two hours’ ferry ride from Malta, and there’s a terrible homeless dog problem there.
Rescue dogs and their families
Cooper and I have met many beautiful rescue pups over the past year. Their families shared with us meticulous details on any anxiety or behaviour to care for in their rehomed dogs. It’s a privilege to have been able to get to know so many beautiful personalities. In Malta, we were followed around, up and down stairs; The dogs snuggled with us in the lounge at TV time, demanded cheese at meal time, and lapped up love at bedtime. We love them!
Parents of all of the rescue dogs we’ve met care deeply about their fur family, and have been matched with their furever pups. But there are heartbreaking stories of terribly high ‘return’ rates to shelters that we have heard of too.
How to rehome a dog – things we can learn
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a dog person and/or you are looking to rehome a dog too. All dogs, like people, have unique personalities. To effectively place a dog in its furever home, a proper match needs to be made.
Theresa and Geoff explained more about this to us when we spent time with them, and in the video above ☝
The dogs they’ve rescued have been through TRAUMA: neglect, serious abuse, abandonment.
It’s why some of our babies on the house sit were reticent to be too near to us.
Theresa and Geoff have a really low ‘return’ rate. They put in the time to match families and dogs though, as you’ll see in the video above.
Adoption and rehoming tips
Details we garnered to help you find your perfect pooch:
See what you can find out about the dog’s personality and background. Does he/she need to run around, are they best with a family, or a couple/single?
Will the breed/personality be right for your circumstances – do you have young kids?
How active is your dog going to need to be, and can you cater for this?
Have you considered an older dog, not just a puppy? There are so many benefits to rehoming older dogs who have just been down on their luck. Puppies are NOT right for everyone.
Are you willing to socialise your dog – take them to a dog park and to learn to play with others?
A dog deserves love for life, and you should be able to pay for vet bills if required.
Theresa and Geoff are always on the lookout for good homes for dogs they rescue. Show your support and get in contact via their Facebook page, Adopt a Sicilian Stray.
Malta is an incredible place which offers a lot to practically anyone who wants to stay. But what do you need to think about when it comes to where to stay in Malta? There’s a variety of choices across a wide space, so the choice might be tricky. Luckily there are some absolutely incredible parts of Malta to stay and any one of them can be a great choice for you. Let’s take a look at five of the best places to stay in Malta to help you decide.
Our top 5 picks: where to stay in Malta
The first place that we want to take a look at is Mellieħa Bay. This is a very relaxed locale with beautiful scenery and a palpable sense of chill. Beaches, coastal areas and modern accommodation and dining all await the guests of this choice. I’d recommend it for people who want to have a very chilled out and relaxing holiday, because it’s really something special.
For just a few euro, we spent the day lazing about at Ray’s Lido. Sleep on a day bed, enjoy some bubbles, read a book and watch the world go by.
If you’re not interested in a chilled out holiday, then it might be a good idea to invest in Valletta. The old capital city of Malta, this is a wonderful place to visit because there’s so much to do. There’s a lot of great history, shopping opportunities and dining chances. You just have to make sure that you have researched the public transport links because trust me, it can get busy!
Valletta is convenient because it’s central. The island’s buses all head into here, and from here you can reach other areas of Malta on public transport. Find out more about things to do here.
This wonderful waterfront promenade is home to our third destination for people to stay in Malta, and it’s the best place to stay in Malta if you want lively nightlife. This is the bar and club area, which is worthwhile for anyone who wants to enjoy themselves in the evenings!
Along the Sliema waterfront you’ll also find a beautiful boardwalk for walking, running, exploring; and there’s great bars along there with afternoon cocktail and meal deals.
St Paul’s Bay
St Paul’s Bay can be looked at more as a resort than anything else. Set around a picturesque bay, find an ocean front apartment to stay in for a chilled-out break. As far as options on where to stay in Malta, this area offers newer accommodation, a bit like Mellieħa Bay further around the coastline. It’s a great option if you’re seeking a beach holiday, rather than a city break, which is what Valletta offers.
Gozo Island is a wonderful location which offers a charm all its own. It’s an island, and has its own city and customs which you can enjoy. It’s still quite near the mainland so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you can enjoy all of Malta. There’s easy transportation on and off the island, which is good for people who want to come back and forth at their leisure.
You can catch a ferry between Malta and Gozo from various points on Malta. Sometimes accommodation deals are cheaper on Gozo, which is why we’ve included it as one of our best options on where to stay in Malta.
These are five areas in Malta I would recommend that you consider basing yourself. They’re all stunning. For another perspective, we like this local’s guide on where to stay in Malta.
It’s so important to have somewhere to stay that works for you as a traveller – what kind of trip to you want (active, chilled), and what are your transport options? These will feed into where to choose. For further tips on the best places to stay in Malta, take a look at this guide, or drop us a line in the comments with your questions.
Malta video guides
👉Watch our vlogs on Malta for more travel inspiration. They went viral on Facebook 🌞
Wherever we travel, it’s always thrilling to find a secret spot: a cave, forest, ruins and especially a secret beach.
Secret beaches are particularly great during holiday high season when it’s hard to escape people. If privacy is something you crave, opt for beaches that are less well-known or only accessible by boat. Narrowing the search for us, the Samboat.com team has compiled a secret beach list of just this kind of escape!
Ten of the best from around the world 🙌
Secret beach top 10
Es Portixol beach, Ibiza, Spain
Surrounded by hills, this small cove is a hidden gem located in the north of Ibiza. It’s usually only frequented by fishermen of the boat huts.
Perfect for those looking for their own little private beach, Es Portitxol features amazing turquoise green waters, creating your own mini paradise. The serene cove is protected from the elements. It’s completely surrounded by hills covered in pine trees, making the hike to get there totally worth it.
Known for its sparkling white sands that gleam a shade of pink in patches thanks to the vast expanse of seashells on the shore, Palm Beach is one of the world’s most spectacular secret beaches.
The beach is only accessible by boat, meaning it acts as a quiet escape away from the hordes of tourists and with nothing but sand and sea for miles it’s important to bring a sun hat and sun cream.
Take a visit to Palm Beach as the prefect opportunity to go swimming or snorkelling in the dazzling apple-green water.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
An hour’s speedboat journey from Krabi airport, Koh Lanta is home to nine secret beaches, all surrounded by the beautiful Andaman Sea.
Head to Lek beach (also known as ‘secret beach’ to locals) for perhaps the most beautiful beach on this island. Away from tourist hotspots, this quaint spot is typically only visited by those tipped off by Thai residents, exaggerating its ‘secret’ status.
Although completely undeveloped, there is a small wooden shack beach bar named by the synonymous Lek and a spectacular view of the sunset, what more could you really need?
Featuring a distinct heart-shaped coastline, this island is also known as lover’s island and it is one of the most popular islands in the world right now.
With no man-made features or tourist facilities, there are countless secret beaches to be explored, and the best bit? Seclusion is guaranteed as the island is only accessible by boat.
With a terrain empty of commercial infrastructure, the beaches here are indeed the perfect lover’s paradise, setting the stage for an idyllic and uninterrupted getaway.
St. Peter’s Pool, Malta
With crystal clear waters offering incredible snorkelling opportunities, the sea at St. Peter’s Pool is one of Malta’s most spectacular natural swimming pools.
Okay we’re cheating a little here as it isn’t technically a beach; however it is an experience second to none.
The pool is so remote that you’ll never struggle to find a spot, no matter what time of year it is and the surrounding rocks are perfect for some secluded sunbathing.
Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico
Only a brief journey from the mainland, Flamenco beach is constantly ranked amongst various lists of the World’s best beaches.
The rolling hills in the background combined with clear waters and gorgeous white sand make this one of the most memorable beaches you’ll ever experience.
Salema, Algarve, Portugal
With dinosaur footprints embedded into the limestone, this is a palaeontologist’s haven. The half-mile-long beach boasts fantastic golden sand and seas that are perfect for swimming thanks to the strong waves and strikingly clear waters.
Seaweed is replaced by a variety of small shells on this beach, emphasising clarity. Free from tourists, this is the perfect secret beach to dig your toes into.
Praia Do Penedo, Portugal
Take a break from the big city in Lisbon and chase secret beaches around the country.
Located on the small Portuguese island of Porto Santo, this beach is covered in a layer of sugar-fine golden sand that have alleged healing attributes.
Due to its location at the furthest southern point on the island, this is arguably the quietest and most secret beach on our list but it is definitely worth the journey.
Kauapea Beach, Hawaii
You’d think tourists would flock here thanks to its breath taking beauty, however, with no public roads leading to it; Kauapea Beach is often referred to as ‘secret beach’.
Privacy is easy on this beach as it’s so vast that you often feel like you have the entire beach to yourself; however be aware that if you walk too far down you may encounter the unofficial part of the beach where clothing is considered ‘optional’.
Navagio Beach, Greece
An exposed cove surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, Navagio beach is located north of the Greek island of Zakynthos. The cove is more commonly known as ‘Smugglers cove’ as it is said to be the location of the shipwreck of an alleged smugglers ship many years ago.
Adding to its secluded status, the beach is only accessible by boat and the silvery white sand and clear waters are a must see if you’re on the island.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.