Doggone It! Puppy Breaks Loose, Swims from Upper West Side to New Jersey in Hudson River, And Lives To Tell The Tail! Welcome home!

It’s never a good thing when your dog decides to take himself for a walk, especially if you happen to live in a big city like Manhattan!

Ellen Wolpin of New York City had just purchased a 6-month-old puppy named Bear. The pup will become a seizure service dog for her 20-year-old special needs son, Zack, but if his most recent misadventures are any indication, Bear still has a little training to do before he’s ready to go to work!

Ellen was taking Bear for a walk to the pet store to buy him a tighter harness when, you guessed it, he wriggled out of his too-loose harness and bolted down the Upper East Side. As Ellen frantically gave chase, Bear veered onto the bike trail and ran about 30 blocks north to 110th Street. When he got to the Hudson River separating the city from New Jersey, the dog didn’t hesitate: He jumped right in and started paddling!

Bear is a Leonberger Bernese mixed with a Bernese mountain dog, two breeds that love to swim and are quite good at it. Even so, with the water being so cold in December, Ellen feared she might never see her son’s new dog again.

Ellen called 911, but authorities were not able to locate the runaway pooch that day. The next morning, Ellen waited all day to get a phone call about finding Bear, but again, there was no sign of him.

Around 5 the next morning, someone called the Edgewater Fire Department in New Jersey about a dog barking in the water near an Independence Harbor pier. When they investigated, they saw a dog huddling in the water under the pier.


Two men got into the freezing water to lure Bear closer.

“The two guys in the water just stayed behind him so he would come toward the boat and he sat there, waited patiently, I grabbed him by the back of the head and put him in the back of the boat,” firefighter Tom Quinton told ABC7.

Firefighters took Bear to the vet to have his microchip scanned, and by 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday he was reunited with his family. All of them now have an incredible story to tell, but they’re glad the adventure is over!

“He did like a full triathlon almost,” Ellen joked in The New York Post. “Because he ran about a mile-and-a-half and then swam about a mile.”


Zack was so excited to see his dog again! Ellen has already bought him a tighter harness, and she says aside from hugs and treats, the first thing they did was give the smelly pup a bath. We can only imagine how crucial that step was!

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