Kyle Smith and his dog Bodza have lived been through almost everything together.
Since 2006, Bodza had worked with the U.S. Air Force as an explosive detection dog, and he’d helped save human lives by sniffing out bombs in operations in Iraq, Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait.
Smith didn’t start working with Bodza until 2012, but the two formed a fast and lasting friendship.
In the summer of 2016, Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, a progressive and incurable disease affecting a dog’s spinal cord.
“His hind limbs lost their use and he could barely stand up anymore, much less walk,” Smith said. “He couldn’t handle the stress on his body and using the restroom was a task.”
After learning how much pain comes with the disease, Smith made the decision no dog lover ever wants to make — to put Bodza down.
When the extremely sad day ultimately came, Smith, along with nine of his coworkers, took Bodza to the Fort Bliss Vet Clinic in El Paso, Texas. They laid a blanket on the floor, and made sure that Bodza felt as comfortable as possible.
“They let me sob like a baby,” Smith told the Dodo. “They pat me on the back and let me know it was going to be all right. My boss immediately went and grabbed a flag, and draped it over him and let me have a final moment.”
“It was incredible,” Smith said. “There was heartache and peace all at once that came over me.”
Smith now keeps Bodza’s collar on the rear view mirror of his car. “I will never forget how loyal he was,” Smith told the Dodo. “He was selfless — more than any human I’ve ever known. He’s done so much for next to nothing and did it with a smile. I miss him every day.”