Parents of late Marine adopt his bomb-sniffing dog

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — In a brief but poignant ceremony Saturday, a bomb-sniffing dog was declared retired and officially adopted by the family of his former Marine handler, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Dino, 6, a Belgian Malinois, was adopted by the family of Staff Sgt. Christopher Diaz, who was 27 when he was killed in September 2011 while deployed in Helmand province.

Dino was with Diaz during the deployment but was uninjured.

“The adoption of Dino will not replace our son, but it gives us a bit of him that he loved, which was Dino and the Marine Corps,” said Diaz’s father, Salvador Diaz, a former Marine.

Diaz’s mother, Sandra, her voice cracking, said: “It’s going to be helpful; we’ll have something to hold on to.”

In El Paso, Texas, Dino will have a large back yard and a swimming pool, she said. The couple have two sons besides Christopher, but neither lives with them, and they have no other dogs.

“Dino will be our baby,” Sandra Diaz said.

Diaz and Dino had worked together at Twentynine Palms before deploying to Afghanistan. The two developed a bond. That bond enabled the two “to be very effective doing their job on the streets of Afghanistan,” Salvador Diaz said.

One of the family’s prized possessions is a picture sent by their son from Afghanistan showing him and Dino.

To let the Diaz family adopt Dino, the Marine Corps needed approval from the secretary of the Navy. The law permits such an adoption if it will help a family with the grieving process and if the dog is considered a good candidate for adoption.

Dino had to pass a test developed by specialists at the military dog training school at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to make sure that he did not suffer the canine equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The test showed that Dino has the right temperament to be adopted, said Rich Landgrebe, operations manager for the Marine working-dog program.

Along with Diaz’s parents, a half -dozen relatives from Southern California came to the ceremony at the dog-training facility.

Sgt. Jonathan Overland, took over as Dino’s handler after Christopher Diaz was killed. He knew Diaz and has his own bond with Dino. He said he will miss Dino, but added, “I know it’s where he belongs, where he’ll be happiest.”

—-

&Copy;2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

——-

More in Local News

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Young woman missing from Mukilteo found safe

She called her parents and told them she was at a museum in Seattle.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders apprentice Janette Alhanati (left) and journeyman Kurt Warwick construct wall panels for an upcoming boat project with Linblad Expedition Holdings. A federal grant from the Northwest Workforce Council will allow Nichols Brothers to add more apprentices to its workforce starting in January 2018.
Whidbey Island boatbuilder gets hiring boost

The grant from the Northwest Workforce Council will help expand the company’s apprenticeship program.

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Most Read