Dog named Hulk lands a home with a bodybuilder

Hulk the dog lying on a wooden bench, smiling
Hulk is big and exuberant enough to easily knock people over, but now his days are filled with exercise, playtime and naps in his new home.
By Anna McClain

Hulk starts off the morning with a brisk 40-minute walk with his new best friend, Jose Ramirez. Later, there’s a nap and a second walk, maybe a stop at the park to play or work on some training. Life is great. 

As for Jose, ever since adopting Hulk in late August, he has found his best buddy. The two were a natural fit. As a bodybuilder and a fan of fitness, Jose makes sure Hulk gets plenty of exercise, which is exactly what Hulk needs to keep him healthy and happy.

Behind Hulk’s 100 pounds and strong build lies a gentle soul of pure affection, snuggler of toys and fan of Puppuccinos. But just one year ago, happiness like this might have felt out of reach for sweet Hulk.

Dog finds loving care and guidance

When Hulk first arrived at Best Friends in Los Angeles, he clearly needed behavioral training. He was an enthusiastic jumper with enough heft to literally knock people over. He could also be mouthy, and his leash manners were practically nonexistent.

He also immediately captured the hearts of everyone, especially staff members Amanda Yocom and Ana Pulido. They helped guide Hulk through some behavior training and soon realized that although he often had an overwhelming amount of energy, with the right prompts, he turns into a gentle giant.

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“Hulk’s goofy smile and wiggly, funny body caught our eyes,” Amanda says. “Working with him was always so enjoyable.” Though he sometimes struggled to curb his enthusiasm, Hulk was also a couch potato at heart and loved lying in the sun. Amanda saw that Hulk was a very sweet boy who would do best in a home with equal parts activity and restful cuddles — a place where he could truly feel comfortable.

At the same time, Jose was contemplating adopting a dog and wanted to take his time finding that special connection. Focusing on adopting a larger dog, he found Hulk’s picture on the Best Friends website and noticed right away that he stood out from everyone else. “I can’t explain it, but I imagined a spotlight on him, and everything else didn’t matter,” Jose says.

Hulk goes home

Jose met Amanda and Ana for two play dates with Hulk. As Amanda helped him through some coaching with structure, treats and praise, she started involving Jose more and more. “I wanted the opportunity to talk with Jose about managing these behaviors at home and helping Hulk feel engaged,” says Amanda. “Watching Hulk lean into Jose for attention and engage in training, it was very reassuring (knowing) that he would go home with a family that is patient and willing to work through any challenges they may see in the beginning.”

Equally driven to help Hulk feel comfortable through coaching, Jose officially adopted him in August. “The first week home, he took his toy donut and snuggled with it to go to sleep. He is recently more open to cuddles,” Jose says. “These are moments that I cherish because it makes me realize how much he loves his home.”

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Jose is so thankful to have welcomed Hulk into his home and has felt very connected to him. “Hulk is great. He is lazy and sleepy. I love him and my whole family does, too, when they visit,” says Jose. “He constantly gets attention and all the (petting) he wants. He loves his AC, yet he also enjoys being warm and cozy.”

Jose has also been careful in monitoring Hulk’s physical health. He gets daily exercise, training, playtime and a healthy diet. “He has already lost two pounds,” says Jose. “The treat of a Puppuccino is rare!”

Fond memories (and smiles)

When Amanda and Ana think back to when Hulk was at the lifesaving center, they recall how he loved to redecorate his kennel and beds, and lounge in the sun. Jose says it was truly love at first sight and that he is thankful for their deepening connection. “Despite his gigantic frame, Hulk likes to play in the grass and smell the flowers,” says Jose. “He just wants to be around his human and I just want to be around him.”

It is truly a dream come true for a homeless dog who learned to jump into someone’s heart (instead of right on top of him) and find endless warmth and love.

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