Alexis Lorenz holds her 7-year-old beagle named Brandi on Wednesday. The dog got loose from her harness and leaped off of the Burlington Bristol Bridge and survived. (DOUGLAS BOVITT/COURIER-POST)
BURLINGTON TWP., N.J. -- Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's ... Super Beagle?
Well, Brandi the beagle can't exactly leap tall buildings in a single bound, but she did recently jump some 70 feet off the Burlington-Bristol Bridge suffering only minor bruising.
The 7-year-old canine went AWOL Friday night during her regular walk on the Burlington Riverfront Promenade.
Owner Alexis Lorenz said her husband, Robert, left to walk their two beagles around 8 p.m. An hour later he returned - sans Brandi.
"I was in my bathrobe. He wanted me to get dressed. I said. 'Let's go,' " Lorenz said. "He couldn't drive fast enough down there."
Lorenz said they searched the promenade area by foot and by car for hours. While searching near Pearl Street, they were told Burlington County Bridge police had spotted Brandi.
"The police had their searchlights out, and that's when one of the officers told me she jumped from the bridge," Lorenz said.
While it's clear Brandi is a tough pup, she has her Kryptonite.
Lorenz said the rescue beagle went through some type of traumatic experience before being adopted by the Burlington Township family five years ago.
The dog's past experiences have made her very nervous around unfamiliar faces.
Bridge officer Rob Bittner said he saw Brandi walking up the bridge toward the Pennsylvania side during his normal patrol Friday night.
"I get a fourth of the way up the bridge and I see this dog in the road and cars are moving all around it," said Bittner. "I activated my lights to slow traffic and I pretty much followed the dog because I didn't want to scare her by chasing after her."
Bittner said Brandi was moving fine until she got to the top of the bridge where a steel grate caused her paws to get trapped. At that time, motorists who had gotten out of their cars were also attempting to grab the dog, he said.
"There was a car ahead loaded with young kids that couldn't have been more then 17 or 20 years old," said Bittner. "They busted open the door and a young boy tried to grab the dog."
With no place to go, a frightened Brandi walked to the edge of the bridge - and jumped.
"She went in," said Bittner. "We immediately started looking over into the water. She was swimming and made it to the shoreline."
On the embankment under the bridge the search continued. Lorenz, accompanied by Bittner and Sgt. Ray Warmkressel, walked the shoreline for more that 45 minutes.
Near midnight, Lorenz went home to change so she could spend the night in the area where police last saw the dog.
Upon returning to the bridge, she turned off near the embankment.
"I pulled up, and in my headlights, there were her eyes glaring at me in the darkness of the night," said Lorenz. "I didn't want to do anything to scare her, so I slowly grabbed the leash and her treats."
Lorenz said she gingerly approached Brandi, who had settled near some brush.
"I clipped the leash and that was it," she said. "I couldn't believe it. It was a miracle."
The next day, Brandi was given the once-over by Dr. Jeanette Pettit of the Willingboro Veterinary Clinic.
"She was a little bruised up around her abdomen, but other than that she was considerably lucky not to have broken any bones," Pettit said.
Lorenz said the dog has a new nickname: "Leaping Licker." She and her husband also bought new harnesses for Brandi and their other beagle, Rosie.
As for Bittner, he said Brandi was truly one lucky dog.
"When you are in this line of work, things don't always work out for the best, but in this situation we are glad she found the dog," he said.