Photography By: Samuel Lanthrop
Photography By: Samuel Lanthrop

A Paralyzed Thai Street Dog’s Wellness Journey Continues at Animal Wellness Center of OC

How Animal Wellness Center of OC Is Helping Paralyzed Dog Frida and Animals Like Her

In 2018, Dr. Lisa Chong and her friend Tara Austin traveled to Thailand to volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park, but little did she know that she would be returning home with a beautiful, resilient dog in tow. Paralyzed Thai Street Dog

While the two friends were walking through town, a Thai Bangkaew dog caught Chong and Austin’s attention. The dog was struggling to cross traffic and was dragging her back legs behind her due to paralysis. Whether or not you believe in fate, it’s clear that this moment was nothing short of serendipitous. 

“When we found her, we were talking about Frida Kahlo and her quote, ‘Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?’” Chong reminisces. “We found Frida an hour later.” 

After eight weeks of treatment and acupuncture in Chiang Mai, Frida’s wounded paws showed improvement, but it was clear that she would still need 24-hour care.

Today, Frida serves as the inspiration for The Frida Project, an organization founded by Chong and Austin that aims to help street dogs and mobility-challenged dogs lead happier, healthier lives. And while she’s found her forever home in Huntington Beach with Chong, Frida’s health journey continues with the help of her new friends at the Animal Wellness Center of OC (AWCOC).

The Animal Wellness Center of OC is an animal care facility in Costa Mesa that helps restore and improve its patients’ quality of life through holistic and integrative treatments that complement Western medicine. These methods “are designed to bring comfort and tranquility to [pets], calming their anxiety and giving [pet parents] peace of mind.” 

Animal Wellness Center of OC helps Frida on several different levels,” Chong says. “She’s an animal that comes from a lot of trauma, and she’s really found her zen moment at Animal Wellness Center of OC.” The facility does its best to create a relaxing ambiance for its patients with relaxing music, aromatherapy diffusers and solo sessions without other animals present. “It’s a nice atmosphere for her. It’s good for her emotional recovery,” Chong adds.

A key feature for Frida’s recovery is Animal Wellness Center of OC’s pool. “The use of the pool helps take the pressure off of her limbs while she works on strengthening her core muscles,” Chong explains. “This pool is the only one of its kind in Orange County.” Constantly heated, the pool provides a comfortable and relaxing environment for dogs.

According to the Animal Wellness Center of OC, hydrotherapy and controlled swimming are used “to improve cardiovascular stamina, muscle tone, range of motion and is particularly helpful in aiding recovery from injury or surgery while also improving general fitness.” The facility also offers pet acupuncture, chiropractic care, aqua-practic (adjustments in the warm water), massage therapy and physical therapy to further aid in their wellness and recovery.

“All dogs need homes—special needs dogs especially. They have so much to teach us… The rewards are profound. You’ll find out more about yourself too,” Chong says. “Frida’s taught me patience, willpower and belief. Every problem has its solution; you just need to be creative. Everything works out how it’s supposed to.”


Want to Learn More? Paralyzed Thai Street Dog

Get involved with The Frida Project Thai Street Dog

If Frida’s incredible story touched your heart, you can read more about it, decide to volunteer or donate to The Frida Project here


Sign your pet up for treatment at the AWCOC: 

Contact the Animal Wellness Center of OC to schedule your initial evaluation. During that appointment, an on-staff veterinarian will recommend which therapy and service will best meet your pets needs.


The Frida Project
Huntington Beach, CA

Animal Wellness Center of OC
449 W Bay St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

About the author

Writer | Website | + posts

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.


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