The emotional farewell to a soldier dog

Kyle Smith and his dog Bodza have lived many things together. As members of the United States Air Force they shared 189 cold and hard days of security missions in Kyrgyzstan.

Therefore, when Bodza, an 11-year-old German shepherd, was on his deathbed, Smith could not imagine being anywhere other than his side.Something similar happened when a police dog had to practice euthanasia after a very emotional farewell.
Mr. Bodza had worked with the US Air Force since 2006 as an explosives detection dog and helped save lives after sniffing and detecting bombs in operations in Iraq, Kyrgyzstan and Kuwait. Smith did not start working with Bodza until 2012, but quickly between the two emerged a lasting friendship.

Bodza in uniform. Photograph of Kyle Smith

But the relationship between Smith and Bodza was not limited to working time, they also had plenty of time to play and enjoy each other.
“Bodza was a clumsy and gentle dog,” Smith said. “We had stables with horses next to our training yard and obedience and when the horses were out of their stables I went straight towards them without obeying.
Bodza and Smith. Photograph of Kyle Smith

“He liked to bark at his own shadow, so I always got into it by making shadows on the floor and moving them,” Smith said. “I think he thought he was a rabbit.”
Bodza and Smith. Photograph of Kyle Smith
When the day came when Bodza retired, Smith did not think twice before adopting him. “I took him home that day,” he said. It is said that the dog is man’s best friend , and in this case could be confirmed with complete rotundity.

Bodza and Smith. Photograph of Kyle Smith

“He was even more loyal at home,” Smith said. “He was following me everywhere, leaning his head on the bed and saying good night to me every night.”

In the summer of 2016 Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy , a progressive – and incurable – disease that affects the spinal cord of dogs.

“His later limbs lost strength and he could barely stand up, much less walk,” Smith said. “I could not bear the weight of his body and going to the bathroom was an odyssey.”

Photograph of Kyle Smith

Knowing how difficult life was for Bodza, Smith made the decision that no dog lover ever wants to take, to sleep him forever.

When the fateful day arrived, Smith, along with nine of his co-workers, took Bodza to the veterinary clinic Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. They put a blanket on the floor and made sure that Bodza felt as comfortable as possible.

Photograph of Kyle Smith

Photograph of Kyle Smith
Despite the sadness that Smith felt, Bodza seemed to be happy in his last moments. “I had a smile on his face when he went to sleep,” Smith said.

When Bodza finally died, Smith broke. Luckily, his co-workers were there to support him.

“They let me sob like a baby,” Smith said. “They patted me on the back and let me know it would be okay. My boss immediately came over and put a flag on him.”

“It was incredible,” Smith said. “There was no pain and I felt a sense of peace.”

Bodza was cremated and Smith kept the ashes in his house, along with photos of his best friend. He also wears the Bodza necklace in the rearview mirror of his car.

“I’ll never forget how loyal I was,” Smith said. “He was disinterested, more than any human being I’ve ever met. He’s done a lot for almost nothing and always with a smile.


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The emotional farewell to a soldier dog

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