It was a heartbreaking moment when a U.S. Air Force soldier held his beloved German shepherd that served alongside him until the very end last week and . As reported by Inside Edition, Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith found out that his former partner-turned-pet had to be humanely euthanized because of a severe disease affecting the very quality of the devoted dog’s life. And so an American flag helped to pay the proper respect for a military hero.
For nearly Bodza’s entire 12-years of life, the German shepherd served the United States as a military dog. In 2012, the canine hero was paired with Smith while in deployment in Kyrgyzstan. And when Bodza was retired by the government a few years later, Smith was there to adopt him; since then the two have seen each other through a number of life’s challenges, but that was alright – anyone with a love for their dog knows the loyalty to each other. Bodza loved life- he loved long car rides, chasing shadows, licking windows when he became excited and the companionship of his human friend:
“My boss said, ‘Hey, go check your Jeep,'” Smith recalled. “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.”
So when years later, Bodza had trouble jumping into Smith’s jeep, it was originally thought the dog suffered from age related arthritis or hip dysplasia – so common with German shepherds. Smith monitored the dog’s condition for months, but when his front legs weakened and the dog would slip beneath his own legs, further testing was performed. Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, an incurable disease that affected his spinal cord, and Smith was forced to make the difficult decision to euthanize Bodza.
“I held him in my arms the entire time. I’ve never cried that much my entire life. 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 explained. “I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.’ “My boss immediately said, ‘Where’s your American flag? You should have one in your building. Find it for me now.'” Smith said.
They then draped the flag over Bodza’s body, in recognition for his service to the country. And so we lose another American hero, but he was honored just as all those who serve our country should be. Rest in peace Bodza. You served our country as a hero.
(Photos of Bodza draped with American flag via Inside Edition)
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