Police dog Kosmo was in shock and losing blood fast when dog handler Constable Regan Turner arrived at his partner's side.
"I just jumped down on the ground beside him, pretty much lay down beside him, and jammed my thumb in the hole in his throat and tried to stem a bit of bleeding," Turner told reporters today.
"There was a big pool [of blood] around him so he lost a hell of lot before I got to him. I definitely thought he was going to die."
The 4-year-old dog suffered a 4cm gash to the throat, narrowly missing his carotid artery, while responding to a family harm incident in Kaiapoi near Christchurch on Thursday night.
"He was just panting and, despite me calling his name and trying to hear him and get him back to me, he just didn't even have enough energy to move," Turner said of the moments after Kosmo was attacked.
"He just layed down pretty much, and luckily we found him when we did. They tell me if we'd been a little bit longer it probably wouldn't have been the same outcome.
"That was my worst fear, really. It's not a feeling I want to experience again."
Turner was tracking an alleged offender through rural property when he deployed Kosmo.
"I knew when I couldn't find him something sinister had happened. He's not that sort of dog that would run off from me, so I knew he was hurt somewhere."
Kosmo lay helplessly, unable to bark or attract his handler's attention.
"Unfortunately I'd run past you about three or four times, mate, from where you were," Turner told the dog at a press conference at the Patrol Base in Christchurch this morning where the German Shepherd is recovering.
"That's probably the hardest bit to swallow."
It was dark when the incident happened at 6.30pm and it took 20-25 minutes before a Rangiora police officer eventually located Kosmo.
"I didn't see the wound first, I saw the blood," Turner said of the scene. "That sort of hit me pretty hard."
The officers administered first aid, with Turner plugging the wound and applying pressure to Kosmo's injury.
Kosmo was flown by helicopter to a Christchurch 24-hour vet where he received a blood transfusion from a fellow K9 dog.
That was Oza, brought in to save Kosmo's life by his handler Craig Moore.
Kosmo was transferred to a police vet on Friday morning and was likely to be let home tonight for the first time, to snuggle up by the fire.
"Kosmo's saved me on a few occasions and I can't thank him enough for what he did last night," Turner said earlier.
"It was either him or me, unfortunately."
Kosmo, who might milk his recovery Turner reckons, has been an operational patrol dog for the past two years, successfully tracking and catching multiple offenders on thousands of jobs.
The dog, sporting a blue bandage around his neck, remains off duty until he "starts annoying me again and jumping on me and licking my face", indicating he is ready to return to the frontline.
Turner said there was no better satisfaction than working as a team with his dog to protect the public.
A 29-year-old man from Christchurch was arrested at the scene and was due to appear in Christchurch District Court yesterday to face various charges.