LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Blue, the Police Department's first search dog and a survivor of stabbings, chokings and bludgeonings, has died of a degenerative disease.

''I'd trust him with my life,'' his handler, Sgt. Mark Mooring, said Friday. ''He'd follow me anywhere.''

During 5 1/2 years on the job, the German shepherd aided in the arrest of 253 felony suspects and participated in 700 searches, said Mooring, in charge of the department's canine unit.

The 8-year-old dog died New Year's Day.

Blue was retired from the force in October 1985 when it was discovered he suffered from a degenerative disease that afflicts older dogs.

''He did not want to be retired. He couldn't understand why he couldn't go with me,'' Mooring said. ''He literally sat in front of my car one day.''