Saturday was a bright sunny day. The snow had fallen a few days before and now it was play time for the sledders, skiers and skaters.

The more sedentary types moved through a tiny, old-fashioned, neighborhood market in Northwest Washington putting things into shopping carts and crossing the items off their lists.

Three young girls came in to buy a half-gallon of milk, paid at the one checkout counter and left.

Only minutes passed before one young gir, in subdued hysteria, came back to announce in tones clearly condemning the adult world and people who drove cars, "A dog's been run over, she's lying in the street. May I use the phone to call for help?"

Shopping stopped as the few customers, along with the clerks, went to stand on the porch of the store to look.

"I wonder who she belongs to," a shopper asked the air.

A lady with a small son moved the dog from the middle of the street to the sidewalk and went off down the street to ring doorbells to ask if anyone owned a fat (or maybe pregnant beagle.

Two of the young girls took off their parkas to place them over the wounded animal.

The beagle looked around, knowing, like anyone who has been in an accident, that people cared, although all they could offer was comfort until experts arrived - and she stopped her whimpering.

An older girl, 12, maybe, was in charge, she ran back to the store to use the phone again to call a number the Animal Rescue League had given her.

The lady with the young son, who had set off ringing doorbells, returned to say, "She doesn't belong to anyone around here."

As she lay in the snow, her head resting on a red parka and her left leg extending out from under the blue parka covering her, two shivering uncomplaining young girls rubbed their arms to keep warm.

A third knelt in the snow next to the white plastic half-gallon container of milk and gently stroked the back of the hit-and-run victim's head.

"She has a cut over her eye," the stroker noticed. "She might bleed on your jacket."

The T-shirted freezer, moving her hands to keep warm, said, "I don't care, I love animals."

The kneeler looker up to say, "I'm very warm. Why don't you take your jacket and I'll use mine to keep her warm."

The freezer, feeling that she might be left out of this comfort mission, "I better call my mother and tell her I'll be late getting the milk home."

Change to make the phone call was offered by an otherwise helpless bystander, along with an offer to sit in a heated car alongside until help arrived.

The offers were refused by a pair of brown smoldering eyes looking at a car owning adult who seemed to embody all the reasons the beagle lay hurt in the snow.

An older couple pulled up alongside to go into the store to shop.

With strong admonishments "Be careful on the ice, dear," the woman stopped to look and ask, "Who does she belong to?"

The answer came, in a way, from the milk deliverer, who used a quarter to phone home. She had read the community bulletin board outside the store with notes saying, "I mow lawns," or "I baby sit," and she said, "There's a note on the board saying, 'Found, a rather round beagle.'"

The stroker said, "I guess this is the one. Please take your jacket, I want to put mine on her."

The overture was given refused and the beagle lay there in better hands than an adult world could offer.

I drove home thinking that she may have been running up and down the hill of the nearby schoolyard playground along with the kids who were sledding.

Later a neighborhood letter carrier walking his route recognized the beagle and one of the girls took off to find her home.

The family came and whisked her off the vets.

Her name turned out to be Daisy, an 8-year-old, fat - not pregnant - beagle, belonging to the Dunn family.

(Her injuries, besides to her dignity, were "a dislocated elbow on her right leg" and a cut above the right eye requiring three stitches.)

So Daisy was back home, warm and cosy - but it could never be the kind of warmth those freezing kids gave her on a Saturday afternoon.