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U.S. Air Force soldier Kyle Smith and his “battle buddy,” military working dog, Bodza, first met in 2012 in Kyrgyzstan where they were both deployed. Eventually, Smith was paired with another dog, but always had a special bond with Bodza and planned to adopt the dog when he retired from service.
A few years later, Smith’s superiors surprised him with adoption papers for Bodza. The pair were inseparable from that day forward.
“My boss said, ‘Hey, go check your Jeep,'” Smith told Inside Edition. “They went out and put a bowl, a brand new leash and two collars, and they put [Bodza] at the back of my Jeep. I got to take him home the same day he retired.”
They had a few wonderful years together, but Bodza, an 11-year-old German Shepherd, was suffering from degenerative myelopathy, an incurable disease that affected his spinal cord and Smith had to make the tough decision to relieve him of his pain and suffering.
Smith honored his very best friend and four-legged hero by draping an American flag over his body as he took his final breaths.
“I held him in my arms the entire time. I’ve never cried that much my entire life,” Smith said.
Today, Smith is working as an instructor for military working dogs in El Paso, Texas.
“All of us have that dog that is so special to us,” Smith said. “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.”