NYC puppy rescued after swimming across Hudson River to New Jersey

Bear, a Leonberger Bernese Mountain dog mix, has spent the past week taking in the sights of New York City after getting lost and swimming across the Hudson River —all the way to New Jersey.

His owner, Ellen Wolpin, joked in an interview with NBC’s New York affiliate, that the six-month-old pup completed a duathlon in his adventure throughout the city.

“He ran a mile and a half and swam across (the Hudson River), which I think is about a mile,” she said.

Wolpin told the station that she purchased Bear last week from a breeder in Montana. She wanted to train the puppy to be a service dog for her son, who suffers from seizures.

A large light brown dog laying on the floor. (WNBC)
A large light brown dog laying on the floor. (WNBC)

Bear was adjusting to his new life on the Upper West Wide when he got loose from his collar on Dec. 3.

Wolpin said she was walking Bear to the pet store to get a harness when he ran away.

According to NBC New York, Bear ran about 30 blocks before plunging into the chilly river. A person nearby saw him doggy padding but then lost sight of the dog.

“I didn’t even know the dog could swim!” Wolpin said. “I ran home, I googled, I called 911, they had patrol boats for hours on Saturday. They couldn’t find him.”

A soaking wet light brown puppy dog looks sadly at a camera. (Edgewater Fire Company #1 / WNBC)
A soaking wet light brown puppy dog looks sadly at a camera. (Edgewater Fire Company #1 / WNBC)

She did not think Bear would return and said her family was sad the entire weekend. “My son kept asking ‘Where’s Bear?’ I didn’t know what to tell him,” she shared.

Then, during the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, Dec. 6, Wolpin received a call from the Edgewater New Jersey Fire Department that said Bear had been rescued beneath the pier at Independence Harbor. The brave pup was safe.

“I thought somebody was joking with me because there’s no way,” said Wolpin. “He was out there for 2 1/2 days by himself.”

She added, “I cannot thank the fire department and the police department enough. From my understanding, they were there for about five hours trying to get him out from underneath the pier.”

Now, Bear is smelly and a little tired, but he has been reunited with his family.

“Hopefully swimming the Hudson is over because when he came back, he was very stinky,” Wolpin said.

Bear is back to spending his days getting used to his new home and family. He will also have another friend to play with. While he was missing, Wolpin contacted the Montana breeder and asked for a second dog for her son, just in case. Looks like Bear will get to reconnect with his brother soon.

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