SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office had a spot to fill in its canine unit, but did not have the funds funds, so it was going to have to wait to complete its K-9 team.

That’s when a generous donor stepped forward, offering thousands of dollars for the purchase of a dog. That dog, named Duke, has arrived from Germany and has been bonding with his partner Deputy Mark Utterback.

The 2-year-old German shepherd has already learned how to leap from the ground through a window into Utterback’s vehicle.

“You live together, you work patrol every day; it’s just like having a partner in your car,” says Sgt. Paul Hoskins, a former canine officer. “This is the second training he’s been to; this is the first day he’s actually jumped in and out of a patrol car, which is huge.”

Also huge is the price tag of these K-9s.

Says Hoskins, “They range between $8,500 and can go up to $13,000, $14,000; you can actually pay up to $18,000.”

San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore says these highly trained canines are a crucial part of the department’s entire operations.

“It’s a force multiplier; it gives us an opportunity to have our deputies work in outlying areas, but have a canine partner,” he said.

Down one K-9 team, the department was looking to complete its full team. Enter dog lover and generous donor Rogine Couch.

“I love animals, and I knew I would be able to donate to a department that would take good care of him,” said Couch.

She donated nearly $10,000 so the department could purchase Duke, and says it’s worth every penny.

As the introductions were made, she was not disappointed.

“Oh isn’t he cute! Duke! Aww, he’s just a puppy, what a cute dog!” said Rogine.

After the dogs retire from the unit, handlers are able to purchase them for only $1 — keeping the bond going strong between them in their golden years.

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