For the Diaz family, nothing will ever be able to bring back their son Christopher who was killed while heroically trying to save a fellow marine in Afghanistan -- but now his loyal service dog who stood by him through war will brighten the Diaz home.
Christopher's parents were on hand at a ceremony at Camp Pendleton in San Diego over the weekend to watch his canine companion, a bomb-sniffing dog named Dino, get honorably discharged into their custody after his time in the military. For years, Dino had served alongside Staff Sergeant Diaz, scouring for hidden IEDs and saving countless lives in the process.
But their relationship, says Christopher's mother Sandra, extended far beyond that of master and handler. They were friends, leaning on one another during the most challenging experience of their lives.
"Christopher used to show us pictures of him when he was out in Afghanistan. Just a beautiful dog," Sandra told CBS 8.
On September 28th, 2011, Sergeant Diaz was killed by one of the bombs he had the dangerous duty of detecting; Dino was able to survive the blast.
Nearly three years later, Sandra and husband Salvador are still reeling from the loss of their son but taking comfort in being able to offer a loving home Dino.
"Words can't express how we feel - emotional, happy, ecstatic...are we ready for this...I don't think so. Is Dino gonna be ready, I hope so," says Salvador.
"Actually with my wife, he laid his head on top of her arms as my wife was crying a little bit. He's very energetic, Chris was the same way. You can tell there's a lot of love in that dog right there."