Montgomery County officials are trying to raise pedestrian safety awareness. In May, two pedestrians and one cyclist were killed on county roads, bringing to six the number of people killed this year in collisions while not in a vehicle. Sixteen pedestrians and one cyclist were killed in the county last year.

Christy Huddle, the county's pedestrian safety coordinator, says she is eager to give presentations on the issue. This year, she and other officials have handed out several hundred "retro reflectors" for pedestrians to wear, as well as several hundred "globe strobes," which emit a red flashing light, for walkers to carry.

Common sense is the first rule for pedestrians, Huddle said. "They need to make sure, if they're at a legal place to cross, that the driver is going to stop for them." Eye contact alone -- especially if the driver is talking on a cell phone -- may not be enough of an indication that he or she is preparing to stop, Huddle added.

Darkness is a time of particular danger, she said. Walkers should use sidewalks when available and face traffic if not. County residents should "push to have a sidewalk put in," Huddle said, if they see a need. "Push hard."

Remembering Hank

A group of about 150 firefighters, fire marshals and police officers paid their final respects last week to a member of the Montgomery Fire and Rescue Service who was, it is safe to say, universally beloved.

Hank, a 4--year-old yellow Labrador, died May 3 of canine leukemia. The dog had been an accelerant detection dog -- sniffing out substances that start fires -- since May 13, 2001.

Hank was a she. How a female dog came to be named Hank remains something of a mystery, fire and rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said. But the name stuck.

"She was very popular with the kids," Piringer said, referring to the schoolchildren who met Hank on her many trips to schools with her human handler, Lt. Wayne Shaw. "I think the kids had a certain bond with her."

Hank showed no symptoms until the day before she died, Piringer said.

On May 2, Shaw took her to the veterinarian with a high fever. Hank was placed in the intensive care unit at the VCA Veterinary Referral hospital, and leukemia was diagnosed. She died at 10 the next morning.

Hank worked more than 200 fire scenes in her career, including fires in Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District and Puerto Rico. Hank mostly enjoyed "a good night's sleep," Piringer wrote in a brief biography of Hank that he composed. "Her favorite spot was in bed, between Wayne and his wife, Debbie," Piringer wrote.

Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Montgomery firefighters, Montgomery police officers, and state and local fire marshals attended Hank's memorial.

A reception following the memorial service featured human refreshments -- sodas and cookies -- as well as a plate of Milk-Bone dog biscuits, Piringer said.