Despite bad eyes, cauliflower ears, and aging paws, a six-year veteran of the Montgomery County police force on his last tour of duty risked his neck yesterday morning to help nab a youth breaking into a Silver Spring school.

For Mutzley, a nine-year-old German Shepherd police dog, this was to have been a quiet holiday weekend. If all was calm, he would have been free to stay at home with his handler, officer Larry Brown, and retire today with 98 apprehensions under his collar.

It was not to be. Shortly after 1 a.m. yesterday, Mutzley was being rushed unconscious, to a Rockville animal clinic, blood pouring out of his body from four stab wounds. Left behind under arrest was his 16-year-old knife-wielding assailant, who Mutzley had sniffed out in a wooded area near the school.

The youth and a 15-year-old companion were discovered trying to break into the Woodside Elementary School on Ballard Street, according to police.

When the 16-year-old fled into the forest, Mutzley and Brown were called to the scene. As they combed the woods, Brown heard Mutzley bark, and then saw the wounded dog tumble down an incline.

The youth lunged at Brown with a knife, but the officer knocked him out with a whack on the head with a heavy metal flashlight, police reported.

The 16-year-old was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, while his 15-year-old was charged with burglary, police said.

Mutzley, meanwhile, is reported in stable condition at the Gaithersburg Md., animal hospital.

"He's walking wounded," said hospital manager Ann Lehman. "He can still shake hands."