A Beautiful Friendship
Air Force Sergeant, Kyle Smith, and his 11-year old German Shepard, Bodza, saw the best and the worst of the world together. Sgt. Smith started out as Bodza’s handler in 2012, while he was deployed in Kyrgyzstan.
The duo went on to serve four tours-of-duty overseas, always by each other’s side. In 2014, Bodza was retired from service, but Smith was not about to let their friendship end there. He adopted his loyal companion.
Military service often takes a very hard, physical toll on soldiers and it is no different for military service dogs. After spending his life serving his country, Bodza’s health began to deteriorate. Last week, Smith was forced to make what he called “one of the hardest decisions of my life.”
“It was the saddest thing — he was dragging himself along the tile floor because it was hard to maneuver. Instead of putting him on the table, I had a minute with him on the floor,” Smith told Inside Edition. “I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.'”
Smith took Bodza to the vet that morning, not knowing how the day would end, and vowed to remain with his beloved dog through better or worse.
“Through better or worse” is the motto of the Air Force, and a promise made between these two forever friends. Smith learned that afternoon that Bodza was suffering from degenerative myelopathy. The condition makes it very difficult for the animal to move and is quite painful.
Not wanting him to suffer, Smith chose to say goodbye. He tried to hide his heartbreak from his superiors but when they got word that Bodza was being euthanized, they did what family does…
They rushed right to his side to comfort him.
According to Smith, his supervisor immediately asked him “to find his American flag.” Together, they draped the flag over Bodza in recognition of his service to his country. The sergeant was deeply moved by their loving gesture and said:
“I’ve never cried that much my entire life.”
Rest in peace Bodza–with the thanks of a grateful nation.