Lifelong Devotion: Airman Stays By His Dying Dog's Side Until His Last Breath

Date November 21, 2018

Soldier Airman Kyle Smith and his devoted dog, Bodza, both members of the U.S. Air Force, had gone through a lot together. That's the reason Smith didn't imagine being anywhere else but by the side of his German Shepherd when the pooch was on his deathbed.

Bodza, the 11-year-old German Shepard, had worked as an explosive detector in the U.S. Air Force. He saved numerous lives by sniffing out bombs in such dangerous spots in Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, and Iraq.

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Although Bodza had worked in the Air Force since 2006, it wasn't until 2012 that Smith started working with him.

Soldier and dog formed a very close bond that would carry them both through a lot until they finally reached the end of their road together. Smith and Bodza spent 189 lifelong days working in security operations in Kyrgyzstan. 

However, it was not only work that made them bond, as the two also had a lot of fun. Bodza liked to bark at his shadow, and Smith never missed an opportunity to project shadow puppets on the wall and move it. 

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When it was time for the pooch to retire, Smith adopted him right away, taking him home the same day. The devoted canine was even more loyal and friendly at home, following his owner around everywhere.


In the summer of 2016, the 11-year-old German shepherd was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy - an incurable condition that affects a dog's spinal cord.

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Knowing how difficult Bodza's living had become, Smith made a heart-breaking decision which dog owners never want to make: Put his devoted selfless dog down.

And when the dramatic day came, Smith, along with his nine colleagues, took the dog to a vet clinic in Texas. They even laid a blanket on the floor to make sure the pooch was comfortable.

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Smith was holding his friend as he passed, and the emotions he experienced at that tragic moment were just overwhelming. Despite Smith's sadness, Bodza seemed to be happy in the last minutes of his life.

When the pooch finally passed, his owner broke down. Fortunately, his nine colleagues were there to support him.

Smith cremated his devoted dog and keeps his ashes at home along with his best friend's pictures. Also, Bodza's collar decorates the mirror of Smith's auto as a reminder of their undying friendship and boundless devotion.

Smith misses his four-legged friend every day, and thinking of how much the dog did for him, he says:

He was selfless — more than any human I’ve ever known. 

Sometimes our animal companions do provide us with better companionship than our fellow humans. However, nothing lasts forever and we can do nothing but give them our love and care while we can.

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