Wouldn't-you-know-it department, canine division:

Beth Comarow and Laurie Barclay of Takoma Park were walking their dogs one recent Sunday afternoon in a park near their homes when they came upon a stray.

He was a mixture of labrador and shepherd, with a whitish head, a grayish body -- and a bad case of nerves. Petting didn't settle him down. Dog biscuits didn't do a thing. And leaving him out all night didn't appeal to two confirmed dog lovers like Beth and Laurie.

But it was Sunday -- an ironclad day off for the Montgomery County wagon that picks up lost dogs any other dayof the week. So Beth and Laurie grabbed the dog, wrestled him into Laurie's car and drove him to animal control headquarters in Rockville.

The two women were feeling like wonderfully civic-minded souls as they drove back to Takoma Park in the gathering dusk. Until they saw Beth's car. A policeman had left a $10 ticket.

The charge: using the park after dark. The irony: Beth and Laurie had saved the county perhaps three times the value of the ticket by driving the stray dog to Rockville themselves. And the response of the police official Beth contacted: tell it to the judge.