Deputy Dix is seen here in this 2009 file photo with his handler, Deputy Kip Bowen, who was laid off from the sheriff's office.

One of the most well-known snouts around the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office received a commendation upon retirement from the San Benito County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Deputy Dix, a German shepherd who served as part of the K-9 unit for the last eight years, has retired.

“It’s a great pleasure to present this certificate to Deputy Dix for eight years of service,” said Supervisor Margie Barrios. “Deputy (Kip Bowen), we are aware of how much you have done and worked with him.”

Sheriff Darren Thompson said a few words about Dix’s time with the department at the meeting.

“He was a tremendous friend to the community,” Thompson said, adding that the dog had a mellow temperament and ability to distinguish “sheep from the wolves. He acted as an ambassador with children.”

Thompson said Dix’s enhanced hearing made him suited to finding suspects inside buildings and his advanced sense of smell helped him to locate drugs on many occasions. Most recently, Dix assisted the Hollister Police Department when they were in a standoff with an armed suspect.

“Dix got a ‘grip’ on the situation and used the ‘jaws of life’ to get a handle on it,” Thompson said.

The sheriff’s department has a contract with the K-9 deputies who serve as handlers for the dogs that when the dog reaches its natural age of retirement, the handler may purchase the dog from the county for $1. Dix has been partnered with Bowen since 2008.

“When they are catching up in age, and can’t ride in cars all night or catch bad guys all day,” they are retired, Thompson said.

Thompson said Dix had a few more months left to go before his retirement age, but because his handler Bowen is being laid off as part of the recent cuts for the 2012-13 county budget year, the department made the decision to retire the dog in August.

“He’s too senior to sustain a temporary transition,” Thompson said, noting that experts suggested retiring the dog instead. “Dix is an awesome dog. It’s a sad day to see them walk out the door, but it’s been great to have him all these years. He’s made a lot of friends and caught a lot of enemies.”

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