Sargeant Kyle Smilth and his German Shepherd partner, Bodza, met while serving in the United States Air Force.Since 2006, Bodza had worked as a bomb detector, sniffing bombs and saving lives.Smith began working with Bodza in 2012, and the two quickly became friends.
“I loved working with him because he taught me so much – patience as a young handler, and understanding that this job isn’t just about you,” Smith told The Dodo.
They worked on many missions together over the years, and when the time came for Bodza to retire, Sargeant Smith decided to adopt him.
“I brought him home that day,” he explained.
“At home, he was even more loyal,” Smith said.”He followed me everywhere.”Every night, he would lay his head flush against the bed and say, “Good night.”Bodza’s retirement was a happy time for him until he was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy in the summer of 2016, an incurable disease that affects the spinal cord of dogs.
“His hind limbs had lost use, and he could barely stand up, let alone walk,” Smith explained.”He couldn’t handle the strain on his body, and going to the bathroom was a chore.”Smith was forced to make a decision that no pet owner ever wants to make: he had to put Bodza down. Kyle and nine coworkers drove Bodza to the Fort Bliss Veterinary Clinic in El Paso, Texas.They wrapped him in a blanket and he died peacefully in his owner’s arms.
“I was holding Bodza as he died,” Smith explained.”It was a whirlwind of events.”It was simply overwhelming.”Fortunately, his coworkers were there to help him.
Smith explained, “They let me cry like a baby.””They patted me on the back and assured me that everything would be fine.My boss immediately went and got a flag, draped it over him, and let me have one last moment with him.”
Bodza had crossed the rainbow, but he seemed content in his final moments.”When he was being put to sleep, he had a smile on his face,” Smith said.Smith said, “I will never forget how loyal he was.””He was more selfless than any human I’ve ever known.”He’s done so much for so little and done it with a smile.Every day, I think about him.”