Garage Blog

International Dog Day 2023: Conversations with Pet Parents

To celebrate International Dog Day, we sat down with Damith Weerakoon - Director of Marketing & Operations at Garagers Milestone Beverages and proud Dad to Solo - our resident canine companion at Garage Collective SYP! Dive into our discussion below to explore the ins and outs of dog ownership in Hong Kong as we raise a bowl of water to our furry friends!


"A pet friendly space is  great for not just me but for Solo to have a space to meet other dogs, and everyone here loves her as much as me!" Damith Weerakoon


But that's not all—we also caught up with Tati, our Community Marketing Assistant, to explore another fascinating aspect of dog-related responsibilities in this bustling city.

Interview by Muskan Sharma, Assistant Project Manager

Introduce yourself and share your role & position within the community.

D: I’m Damith,  I produce alcohol with Milestone Beverages and am a member at Sai Ying Pun Garage!


T: I’m Tatiana,  a Community Marketing Executive at Garage Society.


What is your doggo’s name — how did you come up with the name, and does it have any specific significance?

D: My dog’s name is Solo, and her brother (RIP) is Chewy. Basically, I named them after Chewbacca and Han Solo from Star Wars. There was no particular reason why I chose the names, apart from being a Star Wars nerd, and I thought it would be a cool name for them. Also, Chewbacca and Han Solo were best buddies.


T: My dog’s name is Penni — I originally wanted to name my dog Penelope because I loved the name. But my partner thought it was too long, so we shortened it to Penni instead. 


Every pet owner falls in love when first meeting their pet. Tell us your “love at first sight” story with your doggo!

D: Well, I went to LAP (Lifelong Animal Protection Charity) event for a dog adoption day - they were doing a pop-up in Sheung Wan. There were four Mongrel/Shiba puppies there, and everyone was holding this one puppy — and my friend Sharon said me and my wife had to get this puppy (Chewy). We then completed a form to adopt and completed the whole procedure. 

When I went to pick Chewy up, the adoption centre asked if I wanted to adopt one more — that’s how I got Solo. Ultimately, I took Chewy and Solo home; the rest is history!


T: Penni is a French Bulldog. I originally never wanted a French Bulldog, but my partner was obsessed with them. Before taking Penni home, we met some Frenchies I wanted to take home, but we didn’t decide if we wanted to bring home a dog then. We waited for the right time, and when the opportunity came again, we got Penni!




What is your favourite thing to do with your doggo?

D & T: We love to do everything with our dogs! 


What is the funniest thing your doggo has done?

D: Solo’s mostly a stoic comedian, but the funniest thing she does is when we throw treats at her, she gives this really unamused or unimpressed face. She’s still learning to catch treats but still gives this face. After a few times, she’ll just act like she’s scared to catch treats. It’s funny to watch her reaction. 


T: When we first got Penni, her legs were really short, and her body was so chunky — so running was challenging. Especially when she was just two months old and still pretty small, getting into her cage was funny as she would run towards the gate and flip over because she was so round. We got a bunch of videos of her doing that!


Being a doggo owner in Hong Kong has its challenges. What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of pet ownership in the city?

D & T: Lack of pet-friendly places, dog parks and transportation, which is quite expensive sometimes — especially for Ubers and Taxis, even when they “allow” dogs into vehicles. We also experience much unwelcome energy from people in the streets; some are still scared of dogs, and elders find having dogs a bit indifferent.


On the flip side, what do you consider to be the greatest advantage or joy of being a doggo owner in Hong Kong?

D: It’s good and regulated in Hong Kong, and many services cater to general pet care when it’s not overly expensive. You can also live or move off Hong Kong Island, where it’s more dog-friendly in terms of outdoor activities and space. 


T: Also, the city is small, and there are a lot of dogs that can interact with each other! Everyone in Hong Kong has a dog these days, they’re great for companionship!


What are the benefits to you of working in a pet-friendly space?

D: It’s great for not just me but for Solo to have a space to meet other dogs, and everyone here loves her as much as me! Also, the people who work here also take care of her when I’m not around — Sai Ying Pun is a very safe space for all the dogs that drop by!


They say your pets start to look like their owners over time. Without comparing yourself to your pets/doggo (excluding looks), what similarities do you share between yourself and your pets/doggo (personality, characteristics, etc.)

D: The only similarity that Solo and I share is that we’re chill — the rest is from her mother, where she’s a bit stubborn and knows what she wants. And, she’s cute!


T: Penni is quite similar to me; impatient and loud! She’s a bit feisty for a small dog and very stubborn! But she is getting older, so she’s learning to be independent by herself.


Any advice to new or future pet/doggo owners?

D: Just get a pet or a dog! Unless you can’t move to certain places or afford to take care of a pet, don’t get one! You always have a choice!


T: I agree! Taking care of a pet comes with a lot of responsibility and expenses, so we need to be considerate and not jump into getting a pet just because we want one. 


If you could be a breed of dog, which one would you be and why? 

D: A Staffy — just muscle, playful, loud and fun!


T: A Labrador – majestic, loyal and kind.


At Garage Collective Cafe, we love our furry pals, which is why we're a pet-friendly space. From Monday to Sunday, we serve delicious Doggy Bowls filled with goodness, catering to the needs of our four-legged friends and welcoming the entire Doggy Community.


Our dedication to dogs doesn't stop there. We have a myriad of exciting dog-related initiatives in the works, including adoption days and charity events. To stay updated and get involved, make sure to follow us on Instagram at @garagecollectivehk.

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