U.S. Air Force airman Kyle Smith’s motto about his beloved German Shepherd, Bodza, was “through better or worse.”
He was paired with Bodza, a military dog, in 2012 while deployed to Kyrgyzstan. After Bodza’s duty was over, Kyle adopted him.
Bodza lived a long, full life, but at 11-years-old, he became ill with degenerative myelopathy, an incurable condition that affected his spinal cord. It became clear to Kyle (now a military dog instructor) that Bodza was in excruciating pain. That is when he decided to give his best friend a peaceful passing.
It was a truly hard decision for Kyle to make, but he had to bring Bodza to the vet to euthanize him. Although it was not easy, 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.’”
When Kyle’s superiors heard about what was happening, they came as soon as possible. That’s when 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.
To give Bodza a hero’s passing, they draped the American flag over Bodza’s body.
“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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