A gold star family remembered the sacrifice their fallen son by adopting his most treasured friend: a military working dog named Sirius.

Sgt. Joshua Ashley and Sirius formed an unbreakable bond while serving in Afghanistan. On a phone call with his mother, Ashley expressed his desire to formally adopt the German Shepherd after he left the service and made her promise to help take care of him. In 2012, unfortunately, Ashley was killed by an improvised explosive device in the Helmand Valley.

As Ashley’s family mourned, Sirius continued to serve the Marine Corps. Sgt. Frederick Roethler, a buddy of Ashley’s, took over as Sirius’ handler to feel closer to his fallen friend. But when Sirius’ service was over, Roethler agreed that he belonged with Ashley’s family.

In a Marine Corps press release, Roethler and god star mother Tammie Ashley expressed that adopting the military working dog was almost like welcoming Ashley himself home.

“Sgt. Ashley and Sirius are one and the same person, and that family needs to be brought together with Sirius,” said Roethler. “It’s amazing to see it finally happening and his family is able to have a little bit more closure and they get to have something else in their lives that will get to remind them every day of everything that they loved about Josh.”

And for Ashley’s family, they get to keep the little part of their son and brother closer to their hearts.

“It means that we get a part of Josh,” said Tammie Ashley. “My son was never able to have children. He always wanted children and I kind of look [at Sirius as] his child. So my son’s baby is coming home to me. That’s what [Sirius] is to me. He is going to be one of the family.”

Ownership of Sirius was transferred through a ‘passing of the leash’ ceremony at Camp Lejeune.

(Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Erick Galera)