A lost beagle, brown and white and terrified, took a frantic run on Shirley Highway during rush hour yesterday, and -- this is a good-news story -- she lived.
To save her, a blue-suited jogger, a Metro bus driver and some two dozen determined homeward-bound motorists brought traffic on the busy speedway to a virtual halt while they tracked the frightened animal for two miles and tried repeatedly to catch her.
The remarkable rush-hour chase scene ended shortly after 5:30 p.m. when the jogger dodged slowing vehicles to dash across three northbound, lanes and grab the dog from the median strip.
Though several commuters had a hand in the dog's rescue, the hero of the day was Don Barber, the jogger who ran after the beagle, eventually caught her and has now taken the animal into his Alexandria home in hopes of locating the owner.
"I do a lot of traveling and I've seen too many dogs lying dead on the side of the road -- you really feel for them," said Barber, a 28-year-old auto parts representative for Chrysler.
Barber's frantic chase was all the more grueling because he had just finished his daily six-mile jog past the Pentagon when he spied the dog running scared on Glebe Road.
"I was trying to catch her there, but she ran onto [Interstate] 395, so I ran after her," he said. "She was just petrified and everyone kept trying to get to her and she just kept running across the highway.
During the chase, motorists tried to corner the dog with their cars. Some opened their doors and attempted to scoop the animal up; others pulled over ahead of the dog, got out and tried to grab her. A Metro bus driver also joined the chase, leaving his bus on the shoulder.
The whole rush-hour pursuit lasted nearly 10 minutes. Each time the animal bolted across the highway, drivers braked, honked horns and turned on their hazard lights to warn motorists behind them to slow down.
When the winded Barber finally caught up with the dog, "she acted like a trapped anumal. I thought for sure she might bite but instead she just collapsed and I picked her up."
Barber, who doesn't have any pets now but once owned "a beagle just like her," plans to put an ad in the newspaper to find the owner. If no one claims the beagle, he says he will have to take her to the pound. The dog is 7 or 8 years old and has had at least one litter of puppies. She has a brown collar and appears to have been well cared for.
Barber and others involved in the chase said they were astonished that so many motorists stopped their cars for the dog, who was actually bumped by one slow-moving vehicle but was apparently not hurt.
But then Marvin Adams, a serviceman stationed in Alexandria, said as he got back into his car, "If it was my dog, I' like to think that somebody would do the same thing for it."