Bodza the German Shepherd began working for the US Airforce in 2006. The clever dog helped detect bombs in Iraq, Kuwait, and Kyrgyzstan. Because of his brave work, Bodza ended up saving hundreds of lives.
Kyle Smith met Bodza while in the military. Smith worked as a dog handler for the US Airforce. Bodza was one of the first dogs he worked with, and the two formed a very tight bond. While Bodza was a hero for sniffing out bombs, he loved the fact that that Bodza didn’t take himself too seriously. He didn’t miss out on playing like any regular dog either.
Smith was elated when his request to adopt Bodza after he retired was granted. Bodza went to live with his buddy and the two even slept in the same bed.
But things took a sad turn when Bodza turned 11. The vets diagnosed the pooch with degenerative myelopathy. This disease affects dogs’ spinal cords, and is incurable and progressive. Eventually, dogs lose the ability to walk.
“His hind limbs lost their use and he could barely stand up anymore, much less walk,” Smith said. “He couldn’t handle the stress on his body and using the restroom was a task.”
By 2016, Bodza was in a lot of pain, and he could barely lift himself off the floor. When Smith saw how Bodza was suffering, he knew it was best to put him to sleep and save him the pain.
Smith, his Airforce brothers, and his supervisors took Bodza to the vet one last time. He couldn’t contain his tears as the time to say goodbye to Bodza came near.
“I held him in my arms the entire time,” Smith said. “I’ve never cried that much my entire life. I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.’”
Smith’s supervisor knew Bodza deserved a hero’s goodbye, and asked for an American flag to be brought to the office. The soldiers then draped the dog in the flag and paid their final respects.
“The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they
are,” Smith said. “For these guys to do this for a dog they’ve never even met… he got a good sendoff that day.”
“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.”
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