Next week, the highly anticipated movie Max will be released in theaters (here is the trailer, but be prepared for a super sob session before watching). The film follows a war dog who goes to live with his fallen handler’s family, including their young son, as they all come to grips with the death of the soldier.

We couldn’t help but think how art imitates life when we came across this touching story about Eli, an explosives detection dog for the Marine Corps. Eli’s handler, 20-year-old Colton Rusk was killed in Afghanistan by a Taliban sniper. The Labrador Retriever was so close to his handler—having shared a bed and meals with him during the deployment—that he crawled on top of Rusk’s body after he fell, the Department of Defense reported.

After Rusk’s death, Eli was retired and Rusk’s family was given the opportunity to bring him home with them. In this heartbreaking video, Rusk’s parents, Darrell and Kathy Rusk of Orange Grove, Texas, meet Eli in a special ceremony. And it appears that their young son, 12-year-old Brady Rusk, immediately bonded with the dog.

It gets our mind off the sadness of losing Colton," Kathy Rusk says in the video, "just knowing we're going to have a little piece of Colton in Eli. I just wished he could talk and tell us some stories. Just to know we're going to be able to share the love we have for our son with something that he loved dearly."

More like this:

18 Heartwarming Photos of Dogs and Their Heroes 

Watch: Dog Fetches Ball, Returns to Find His Soldier Home