Airman Kyle Smith and his military dog Bodza have been together since 2012, but when Bodza wasn’t able to stand on his four legs, Smith had to do what dog owners dread the most: putting their dog down.
The 11 year-old military dog had been working with the U.S. Air Force since 2006 as an explosive detection dog. In 2012, Bodza and Smith were paired together while on deployment in Kyrgyzstan.
After having severe health complications last week, Smith had to put Bodza down.
“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 and his nine coworkers took Bodza to the Fort Bliss Vet Clinic in El Paso, Texas to put him down.
“My boss immediately said, ‘Where’s your American flag? You should have one in your building. Find it for me now.'” Smith said, about the moment Bodza passed.
The flag was then draped over Bodza’s body in recognition of his service to the United States.
The two had a special bond that was evident during their time together.
When Bodza retired from the service in 2014, Smith adopted the dog when his boss surprised him with adoption papers.
“My boss said, ‘Hey, go check your Jeep,'” Smith said. “They went out and put a bowl, a brand new leash and two collars, and they put [Bodza] at the back of my Jeep. I got to take him home the same day he retired.”
“He was even more loyal at home,” Smith told The Dodo. “He followed me around everywhere. He would lay his head down flush with the bed and tell me good night, every night.”
However, in October, Smith noticed that Bodza was having issues. After monitoring him for several months, Bodza’s health continued to fail. He struggled to get up and walk around and it became obvious that he was in pain.
Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy – a progressive disease that affects the dogs spinal cord.
“His hind limbs lost their use and he could barely stand up anymore, much less walk,” Smith told The Dodo. “He couldn’t handle the stress on his body and using the restroom was a task.”
“I will never forget how loyal he was,” Smith said. “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.”