SPOKANE, Wash. -

The Spokane Police Department isn't hiring any two-legged officers right now, but has hired and is training up a pair of four-legged officers for its K9 program.

For nine years, K9 Stryder has been striking fear in the hearts of Spokane criminals. Just Stryder's presence lets fleeing suspects they've been cornered and it's time to give up the fight.

"Having a K9 run point for us is safer for us, civilians as well as the bad guy  he's going to meet the dog first and not an officer," Spokane Police Officer Shawn Kendall said.

Over his career, Stryder has caught more than 500 suspected criminals. Unfortunately dogs age faster than their handlers.

"He's nearly 10, which is approximately 70 years of age, and after about two blocks you can see it affecting his ability to find bad guys," Kendall explained.

Kendall is now training up a new partner, Talon, a 14-month-old German Shepherd from the Czech Republic.

"He's got over the top drive, he wants to go work and use his nose to accomplish what we're training to accomplish," Kendall said.

The other rookie K9 joining the force is Cruz, who is replacing retiring K9 Duke. Cruz is described as a fireball of energy that handler Jake Jensen lets play with his kids.

These K9 officers now have the option of buying their old dogs from their department. They say after their years of service both Stryder and Duke deserve to enjoy their retirement.