A Military Honor for a Beloved Canine

There is no easy way to say goodbye to your best friend.

I know this well, as I have had to say goodbye to several dogs and a cat over the years and I'm right now facing time running out with my oldest dog Buffy, who is 19.

Air Force Sergeant Kyle Smith recently had to say goodbye to Bodza, his 11-year-old German Shepherd.

Bodza served alongside Sgt. Smith on four military tours starting in 2012 when he was deployed to Kyrgyzstan.

In 2014, when Bodza was retired from duty, he adopted him.

He told Inside Edition: 

“He was one of those gentle giants. He was trained to bite, but I swear he only did it to make people happy. He had no interest in the world of hurting anyone.

My favorite thing about him was he didn’t care what you were doing, he just wanted to be there doing it with you," 

Last year Sgt. Smith said he noticed that Bodza had trouble jumping into the back of his truck. As he got worse, a vet diagnosed him with degenerative myelopathy, a progressive disease of the spinal cord.

According to experts, the disease will usually hit a dog between ages 8 and 14 and starts with a loss of coordination in the hind limbs.  There is no cure, and there are no treatments that have shown an ability to stop the progression of the disease, so the prognosis for dogs affected with it is grave.

Last week, Sgt. Smith made the painful decision to end Bodza's suffering, telling Inside Edition that the decision came on suddenly:

“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. I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, 'I'm going to miss you.' I held him in my arms the entire time. I’ve never cried that much my entire life."

Sgt. Smith didn't want his superiors to see him cry, so he didn't tell them about putting Bodza down.

But they found out, and they showed up at the vet's office to be by his side and they ordered someone to find an American flag immediately..

After Bodza was put to sleep, all the time with Sgt. Smith by his side, they took the flag and draped it over Bodza's body.

Sgt. Smith said that Bodza's last meal was from McDonalds... a Big Mac.

He said:

“All of us have that dog that is so special to us. I got married with this dog, I got divorced with this dog. I have a son on the way, and the most heartbreaking part is I really wish he was younger, so my son would be able to play with him. He was the nicest dog in the world.”

Rest in Peace Bodza, and to Sgt. Smith and Bodza, THANK YOU for your service. 

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