Humour and compassion are traits that fans believe Chris Hong has in spades. These and his dedication to caring for animals has led to Chris’ nomination to be television’s next Bondi Vet. Grind Magazine sat down with Chris to talk animals, potential fame and, of course, coffee.
GM: Congratulations on being in the running to be the next Bondi Vet! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you became a vet?
CH: Thank you. It’s very humbling to have an opportunity to run for the next Bondi Vet. There have been many good entries so competition is stiff.
I’m the third son of first-generation Australians, with my mum emigrating from England and dad from Singapore. Dad was a paediatrician, mum a nurse. My older brothers are both doctors, so I guess I have a science/medicine background, but from a young age, I loved animals. This was inspired by having pets around for as long as I can remember and watching David Attenborough documentaries. I think my mum recognised this and when I was a kid she would often say, “Chris is going to be a vet”.
My road to becoming a vet was a long one. When I didn’t get into veterinary studies straight from school, I did a science and commerce degree. Following graduation, I began a career in environmental consultancy, doing contaminated land management. After three-and-a-half years, I knew my heart wasn’t in it and had a career crisis before deciding to go back to university and study veterinary science. I have never looked back with regret and couldn’t be happier working on the northern beaches of Sydney as a small animal vet.
GM: Many of your fans have said that you have a special bond with their pets. It must be tough at times to be a vet – what is your philosophy towards your patients and their families?
CH: Every job has its challenges and certainly being a part of your patients’, and their families’ lives can give you the greatest thrills and the toughest challenges. My overall philosophy is to give animals healthy, happy lives. A vet’s relationship with animals can be challenging given that they do not always understand that you are trying your best to help them and keep them healthy. In general, if you can invest time and show patience then you are often rewarded and appreciated by the animals and most particularly their families. Every animal and their owners tend to leave an impression on you.
GM: What’s the best part of your job?
CH: There are so many great things about being a vet. Personally, I find being surrounded by animals a real thrill. They are unpredictable. They show great and unconditional love, which at all times is truly admirable. Every day is tremendously varied with always a hint of nervous energy not knowing what will walk through the door. There is also a great satisfaction, feeling that you have truly helped an animal and their owner, no matter how big or small their problem. It is also really nice to slowly integrate into a community where you work.
GM: If you were to win, what would you like to use your platform for as the Bondi Vet?
CH: My personal goal as the Bondi Vet would be to highlight and discuss contemporary issues associated with pet ownership within Australia and abroad, sustainable animal farming practices, and conservation of animal species, as well as biodiversity. Of course you would have to work within the framework of the show and keep it entertaining, but hopefully informative.
GM: Do you have any pets of your own?
CH: I have a dog called Poppy. She is a 10-year-old Pug crossed Beagle, or Puggle. She is very excitable and completely food obsessed. As a vet, I am sorry to say that she has eaten many things that we in the vet fraternity discourage owners of dogs to ever let their dog eat. She once ate a whole wheel of Camembert. She’s eaten a whole box of Lindt chocolates. Once when we were out she got into the house and the pantry and ate a whole bag of uncooked rice! Needless to say she is quite a character and we love her dearly. There is rarely a dull moment with her around.
GM: And last, but not least, how do you take your coffee?
CH: I have had so many phases of coffee preference, but when I first remember coffee being made with an espresso type machine (in the 1980s), cappuccino was the dominant style. After many years of experimenting, I have resorted back to the cappuccino. I have it with half to one sugar, depending on the size, for a little sweetness.
Nominations for the next Bondi Vet are now closed. We’ll be watching the next stages of the selection closely and we’ll be rooting for Chris!