Hulk is a special dog — not just because he’s on wheels. The 6-year-old mutt has a richer history than most humans.
While homeless and living in the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan, Hulk was run over by a vehicle and left for dead on the side of the road.
His back legs paralyzed by the accident, Hulk was saved by a Good Samaritan and shipped 6,000 miles to the United States by a rescue agency. After skipping around foster families, he was finally adopted by two loving dads living in Johnston.
“It took almost two weeks for people to get him help and get him out of there and do something with him,” said one of Hulk’s dads, Greg Ciosek. “They started to give him therapy and do what they could. Then a cat rescue in Rhode Island helped get him to the U.S.”
Last Thursday, Hulk made his first trip to Johnston’s War Memorial Park, where the certified therapy dog participated in the latest Walk with Cops event.
Due to the injuries he suffered in Jordan, Hulk can’t use his rear legs, so he travels by wheelchair.
“When he was hit by the car it did something to his spine,” Ciosek said. “He has no function of the back legs or anything on that back side, but the wheels help him get around. Though he doesn’t need wheels. He’s strong enough to walk on two legs, in the yard and around the house.”
The wheels allow Hulk to travel more safely, however, so that he’s not dragging the lower half of his body.
“We don’t want him to scrape anything or get an infection,” Ciosek said. “So when Hulk goes out, he uses his wheelchair.”
Hulk received special permission to visit the park, where dogs are forbidden.
“Dogs are not allowed in Memorial Park,” Ciosek said. “But a lot of people went through hoops to ensure Hulk would be allowed in as a therapy dog.”
Hulk was expected to make another appearance yesterday, and will be there again for a third stop on Thursday, Oct. 14, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
“Sometimes Hulk’s a little cautious,” Ciosek said. “Since everything that has happened, and since working with Dog On It, and working with other therapy dogs, his confidence is back. He’s very people friendly, but still a little nervous with other dogs. But I think after everything he went through it’s understandable.”
The human-friendly dog has been trained as a therapy dog by Dog On It, the canine and handler portion of the New England Animal Human Bond Foundation (NEHAB). The organization is “committed to improving the health and well-being of individuals of all ages and abilities.”
NEHAB offers animal assisted activities and animal assisted therapy for social, emotional, physical, cognitive or educational goals via certified pet/partner teams, like Hulk and Ciosek. Dog On It’s Rhode Island office is located at 618 West Greenville Ave., Scituate.
Hulk traveled to Memorial Park to visit senior citizens from the town’s assisted living facilities, who were bused to the park for the event. After coffee and donuts, the participants took a lap around the pond with Hulk.
“Hulk had a great time,” Ciosek said. “I think he’s somewhat of a natural at this. Hulk was kind of doing his therapy thing; getting people to open up.”
The amorous pup lived a hard life before he was finally settled in his Johnston home in 2018.
Hulk gets regular acupuncture therapy to help with a variety of ailments.
Ciosek said he would have never believed the technique could be effective in animals. But now he’s a believer.
“Basically he lost his sight; his corneas had become detached in the front and the back,” Ciosek explained. “The acupuncture brought back his eyesight, and fixed everything else going on in his eyes so quickly that it made me a believer.”
Although his name is Hulk, he’s not green. The tan-ish brown canine has little sprinkling of darkly colored fur speckled throughout his coat.
Ciosek thinks he’s more like the Incredible Hulk’s alter ego, than the muscle-bound gamma ray monster super hero.
“He’s more like Bruce Banner, because he’s pretty gentle,” Ciosek said. “If you had Bruce Banner, but in Hulk’s physique, that would be closer, because Hulk is pretty muscular, throughout his chest and front paws. He’s definitely very muscular, from getting around using only his front two legs.”
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