For Kyle Smith and his dog Bodza, all they had ever known in their lives was loyalty and devotion to one another. As Members of the United States Airforce, the duo was deployed together to places like Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, where they spent 189 bitter nights in the cold on dangerous security missions.
Since 2006, Bodza, an 11-year-old German shepherd, was deployed to places like Kuwait, Iraq, and Kyrgyzstan working as a bomb detection dog for the U.S. Airforce special missions program. He met Kyle in 2012, and from that very meeting, the two struck up a friendship almost immediately.
Of course, it wasn’t all work for both Kyle and Bodza. They also had plenty of downtime enjoying one another’s company as Kyle says,
“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.”
“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. I guess he thought it was a rabbit.”
When it came time for Bodza to retire, Kyle didn’t think twice to take it upon himself to adopt his best friend as he continues,
“I took him 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.”
Sadly, in 2016, Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, a progressive, and incurable spinal cord disease. The effect was immediate as Kyle continues,
“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.”
After being close to a year in pain, Kyle decided to make a decision that no dog owner wants to face-euthanasia. The pain was just too great for Bodza to continue, and he could no longer see his best friend suffer in such a manner.
Kyle, along with nine of his closest friends and co-workers, brought Bodza to the Fort Bliss Vet Clinic in El Paso, Texas and laid a blanket on the floor to make Bodza as comfortable as possible.
An emotional Kyle said,
“He had a smile on his face when he was getting put to sleep. I was holding Bodza as he passed. It was a rush of so many things. It was just overwhelming.”
When Bodza finally crossed that rainbow bridge, Smith broke down and cried. Thankfully, his friends were there to support him, when he needed them the most.
“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. I will never forget how loyal he was. 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.”
Kyle had Bodza’s remains cremated, and keeps his ashes in an urn at his home. He also keeps Bodza’s collar in the rearview mirror of his car, as a way to remember his friend. We ask that you all keep this true American hero in your thoughts and in your hearts.