Take your dog hiking in Hong Kong and raise money for animal charities with Exploring Dogs
- Exploring Dogs is a community of dog owners set up by Stephanie Lown who get together each month with their furry friends to hike around Hong Kong
- The group has raised over US$12,000 since the start of the pandemic and its next adventure takes place on February 25, when they will head to Tai O
When Hongkonger Stephanie Lown put out a message asking people to join her for a midweek hike with their dogs, almost 30 people rocked up.
“It was July 2020, at the start of the pandemic, and people were already feeling like Covid was dragging on. So I was like, ‘OK, let’s hit the trails’,” Lown says.
Lown arranged a boat trip to Wong Mau Chau, a tiny island off Sai Kung, its coral-rich waters making it a popular spot for snorkelling and kayaking. It was a huge success. “I knew I was on to something,” she says.
Inspired by the turnout, Lown set up Exploring Dogs, a community of dog owners who get together each month with their furry friends to hike Hong Kong’s vast network of trails and country parks.
Combining her love for dogs and the great outdoors seemed a no-brainer. Exploring for a good cause also made sense.
“It was a great opportunity to give back to the local animal shelters that were struggling, especially during Covid,” Lown says. “So people who join the trips donate a small amount to cover costs – about HK$50 – and each month the money raised is donated to a different animal charity.”
So far Exploring Dogs has raised more than HK$100,000 (US$12,700).
Those who take part in the hikes are encouraged to post photos on the community’s social media accounts, and one furry face that often features is Lown’s rescue dog, Lola, a Pekinese and spitz mix.
Dogs have been a big part of Lown’s life. “When I was younger I hiked a lot with my dad and my beagle, Tigger – it was a great way to burn energy.”
Sadly, Tigger died of cancer in 2018, aged 14.
“I got Lola from a shelter that rescued meat-trade dogs from Dongguan […] that really rekindled my love for exploring the outdoors,” Lown says.
“We explore islands as well as places where we don’t need boat access. Last month we went to Kau Tam Tso,” she says, referring to an old Hakka village in the New Territories. “In autumn the area is blooming with sweet gum trees with fiery red leaves. It’s beautiful.”