Get out the tissues. U.S. Air Force Airman Kyle Smith’s motto was “through better or worse.” That was how he felt about his beloved German shepherd.
Bodza was a former military dog who was paired with Kyle in 2012 when he was deployed to Kyrgyzstan. When Bodza’s duty was over, Kyle adopted him.
The dog lived a long, full life, but at 11 years old he suffered from degenerative myelopathy, an incurable condition that affected his spinal cord. When it became clear to Kyle (who is now a military dog instructor) that Bodza was constantly in excruciating pain, he decided to give his best friend a peaceful passing.
He brought Kyle to the vet to euthanize him. This wasn’t easy, although it was for the best. Bodza would spend his last moments on Earth surrounded by his loved ones, and his Air Force brothers who memorialized him with honor.
“I held him in my arms the entire time,” Kyle said. “I’ve never cried that much my entire life… I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.’”
Kyle tried to hide his emotions from his superiors, but when they heard what was happening, they came as soon as possible. Then they made a stunning request.
“My boss immediately said, ‘Where’s your American flag? You should have one in your building. Find it for me now,’” Kyle recalled.
They draped the American flag over Bodza’s body to give him a proper hero’s passing.
“The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they are,” Kyle said. “For these guys to do this for a dog they’ve never even met… he got a good sendoff that day.”
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