Dogs can be constant companions as we tackle through the obstacles of life. Kyle Smith and his dog, Bodza, had also been through a lot together. They were both members of the U.S. Air Force, and they had also spent 189 harsh days in Kyrgyzstan on a mission together.
When the 11-year-old dog came to the end of his life, Smith couldn’t think of being anywhere else but by his dog’s side.
Bodza had been working with the U.S. Air Force as an explosive detection dog. He helped save many innocent lives by sniffing out deadly bombs in Kuwait, Iraq and Kyrgyzstan. Smith began working with Bodza in 2012, and went on to form a strong bond with the dog.
“I loved working with him because he taught me a lot – patience as a young handler, and how to understand that this job isn’t just about you,” Smith said.
While they did work on mission together, Smith and Bodza always made it a point to play together a lot.
“Bodza was a goofy and gentle dog. We had horse stables directly beside our obedience yard and when [the horses] were out, no obedience was going to be done. He’d run the fence line continuously.”, Smith shared.
“He liked to bark at his own shadow, so I’d always mess with him that way – make my hand a shadow on the ground and move it,” Smith reported. “I guess he thought it was a rabbit.”
When Bodza retired, Smith didn’t have a second thought about adopting him. He took Bodza home the same day.
“He was even more loyal at home. He followed me around everywhere. He would lay his head down flush with the bed and tell me good night, every night.”, Smith said.
Sadly, in the summer of 2016, Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. The disease was progressive and had no cure, and every passing day his health became worse.
“His hind limbs lost their use and he could barely stand up anymore, much less walk. He couldn’t handle the stress on his body and using the restroom was a task.”, Smith shared.
Smith understood how difficult life had become for Bodza. Seeing him in pain was horrible, so Smith made a decision every dog lover dreads making—to euthanize Bodza.
When the day finally came, Smith and nine of his coworkers took the dog to a clinic in El Paso, Texas. They spread a blanket on the floor and made sure Bodza was as comfy as could be.
“I was holding Bodza as he passed. It was a rush of so many things. It was just overwhelming,” Smith said.
Even on his deathbed, Bodza seemed very happy. Smith reported seeing a smile on Bodza’s face when he was being put down.
Smith couldn’t help but break down when Bodza finally passed away. Fortunately, he had the support of his friends and coworkers.
“They let me sob like a baby. 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.”, Smith said.
“It was incredible. There was heartache and peace all at once that came over me.”, Smith admitted.
Bodza was cremated, and Smith now keeps his ashes in his home, along with old pictures and other memorabilia of his best friend. He also put Bodza’s collar on the rear view mirror of his car.
“I will never forget how loyal he was,” Smith shared. “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.”
What an incredible story of love and loyalty!
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