A golden retriever, apparently lonesome and anxious for fresh air, worked himself onto a precarious perch on a second-story window ledge near Washington Circle yesterday, triggering a traffic-stopping police-fire rescue during the evening rush hour.

"You're not doing a story on this, are you?" asked Police Capt. Rod Murray, a key figure in the rescue. "My men will never stop kidding me . . . I will never live this down. I'll be known as the guy who rescued a mutt."

The dog squeezed through a slightly open window at 1000 22nd St. NW some time yesterday afternoon and quickly drew a crowd of about 50 onlookers outside the three-story building, police said.

The fire department's hook-and-ladder Truck 2 arrived, and 22nd Street was closed between K and L Streets. Police officer Dale R. Jones managed to get into the apartment, but couldn't budge the window near where the dog perched and trembled.

Murray then climbed a fire department ladder and, with Lt. Wayne Koka holding his legs, reached out to pet the dog to calm him. Finally, Jones pried open the window and Murray shoved the dog inside.

The crowd cheered and quickly dispersed.