While serving in the US Air Force, Sargeant Kyle Smilth met his mate, a German Shepherd named Bodza. Bodza had been a bomb detector since 2006, and by sensing bombs, he had helped save human lives. Smith didn’t start working with Bodza until 2012, and the two quickly became friends.
Smith told The Dodo, “I loved working with him because he taught me a lot — patience as a rookie handler, and how to recognize that this profession isn’t just about you.”
They worked together on many missions throughout the years, and when Bodza chose to retire, Sargeant Smith decided to adopt him. He answered, “I took him home the same day.”
“At home, he was even more faithful,” Smith recalled. “He followed me around like a dog.” Every night, he would put his head flush against the bed and say, “Good night.” Bodza’s retirement was a joyous time for him until he was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, an incurable condition that affects a dog’s spinal cord, in the summer of 2016.
“His hind limbs had lost their function, and he could barely stand, let alone walk,” Smith explained. “The tension on his body was too much for him to take, and using the restroom was a chore.” Smith was forced to make a decision that no pet owner wants to make: putting Bodza down. Bodza was taken to the Fort Bliss Vet Clinic in El Paso, Texas, by Kyle and nine of his coworkers. They wrapped him in a blanket and he died quietly in his owner’s arms.
Smith said, “I was holding Bodza when he passed.” “It was a whirlwind of activity. “It was completely overpowering.” His coworkers, thankfully, were there to encourage him.
Smith recalled, “They let me cry like a baby.” “They patted me on the back and assured me that everything would be fine. My employer quickly grabbed a flag and placed it over him, allowing me to have one more moment.”
Bodza crossed the rainbow, but he seemed happy in his last moments. “He had a smile on his face when he was getting put to sleep,” Smith said.
Smith added, “I’ll never forget how faithful he was.” “He was more unselfish than any human I’ve ever met.” He’s done so much for so little, and he’s done it with a smile on his face. Every day, I miss him.”
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