David Bernstein looked into the dog’s eyes and saw doom.
The 28-pound mixed terrier, wearing a pale red sweater, was on a path to tragedy, walking across the Brickell Avenue drawbridge as it began rising over the Miami River.
Bernstein got out of his car, yelled, waved his arms. He kept focusing on those eyes and was determined to save her.
“She looked at me and I looked at her,” he said. “She kept walking and I bolted, but it was too late.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The dog plunged 30 feet and disappeared.
Bernstein called 911. An officer and fire-rescue came. He pleaded with passing boaters to slow down and help in the search.
“She slipped just a foot away from my hands. As she fell, I heard one last yelp. I will never forget her face.”
Bernstein, 37, didn’t sleep all night, sobbing in his one-bedroom apartment at the side of his 2-year-old German shepherd Branson.
The next day, Wednesday, Bernstein returned to the nearby bridge. He was determined to find his canine connection.
He was at the bridge for hours. With the help of the tender, he scoured the underbelly of the road.
And there, on a puddle-filled concrete landing beneath the bridge, was the dog in the pale red sweater. She was walking in dirty water.
A maintenance worker went under the bridge and found the petrified pooch.
“He growled at me, showed me his teeth and tried to bite me,” Albert Diaz, 39, said Thursday. “I had to find a rope and lasso him to pull him out.”
The dog’s fur was doused in mud and oil. Diaz said she dropped three to five stories into the pit below where the bridge lift weights are housed. Eight months ago, Diaz said he rescued a pit bull that fell from the bridge into the river.
Suddenly, the terrier that dropped out of sight appeared before Bernstein once again.
“I was in shock,” Bernstein said. “This was a miracle, a miracle dog. I hugged her.”
The dog was taken to Brickell Animal Hospital. The medical staff looked her over: No broken bones, only some scrapes and bruises.
Damian Torres, a manager at the hospital, said the dog got a bath and is in great condition, considering the ordeal.
And she got a new name. Meet “Brickell,” whose coat is now white again.
“She seems trained,” Torres said Thursday. “She listens to commands and is very well behaved. She is a little shaken still but is a happy dog.”
So far, no one has claimed to be Brickell’s owner and she is “still in need of a loving home,” Torres said.
Brickell went home with Bernstein Thursday afternoon. For now.
He bathed her and gave her antibiotics. She has an ear infection, fleas and itchy, dry skin.
He gave her a new bed and water bowl.
Brickell gave him kisses.
Bernstein has heard from 20 people wanting to adopt the miracle mutt. He said he can’t keep her because of his big dog and small apartment.
“My goal is to get her reunited with her family, only if they are a good family.”
He says he plans to keep in touch with Brickell “forever.”
“Dogs give the best love ever,” he said. “Unconditional.”
Miami Herald writer Kristofer Rios contributed to this report.