A Texas family adopted the bomb-sniffing dog that worked with their Marine son who died Afghanistan in September 2011.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Diaz, 27, worked with a Belgian malinois named Dino while deployed in Afghanistan.
Dino, now six, was uninjured in the attacked that killed Diaz. His family traveled to Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif., Saturday to pick up the now-retired Dino after a ceremony honoring Diaz was held.
“It's going to be helpful – we'll have something to hold on to,” Diaz’s mother Sandra Diaz told the Los Angeles Times.
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“Dino will be our baby,” she said.
The adoption was approved by the secretary of the Navy after Dino's temperament was determined to be good by the military dog training school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He passed tests to ensure he does not suffer from canine PTSD.
“I don't think that it will decrease any of the pain we feel,” his father, Salvador Diaz, said. “He's not going to replace Christopher but he'll give us something that Christopher loved, the Marine Corps.”
Diaz, a third generation Marine, was one of the most experienced dog-handlers in the Marine Corps.
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Born and trained in Israel, Dino responds to commands in Hebrew and English, Sgt. Jonathan Overland said. He was paired up with Diaz at Twentynine Palms, a Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, where they developed a bond.
Diaz was fatally wounded when he rushed to help a wounded Marine during a raid. Dino was present at Diaz’s memorial service at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan in October 2011.
The family will take Dino to his new home in El Paso where he’ll have a large backyard and a swimming pool.
"I know it's where he belongs, where he'll be happiest,” said Overland, who took over training Dino after Diaz died.