Dogs are often heralded as 'man's best friend' for good reason. This species of canine has been evolving alongside humans for the past 10,000 years. They know us more intimately than any other animal on the entire planet. We have welcomed dogs into our personal lives and homes and trust them with our families.
The bond between an owner and his or her dog runs deep. It is felt on both the human and dog side. Dogs hate to see humans in pain and the same is true in reverse. One of the most difficult realities to face as an owner is when a dog's pain becomes too much to bear. It is during these times that dogs must be put down.
This was a harsh reality that Airman Kyle Smith had to face with his beloved dog. In 2012, Kyle Smith was deployed to Kyrgyzstan and had a German shepherd named Bodza placed in his care. The two immediately bonded as they spent every waking minute together. The bonding and camaraderie experienced in the military also operates between man and dog.
Bodza was a bright dog that listened intently and cared deeply about his owner. In fact, the duo was well-known throughout the base for their special bond. Before Kyle realized, his time in Kyrgyzstan came to an end and he was back home in the United States. Kyle did everything in his power to adopt Bodza after the dog was also released from the military.
After pulling some strings, Kyle was able to bring the dog home. The two enjoyed several happy years together. The duo was able to continue right where they had left off in Kyrgyzstan. This time, they weren't impeded by military drills or other limitations on the base. Kyle and Bodza were free to do as they pleased.
When Bodza reached age 11, Kyle began to notice something off. The German Shepherd seemed to be in a lot of pain throughout the day. In an attempt to heal his dog, Kyle took Bodza to the vet for a checkup. Kyle was crushed when he learned that his dog was suffering from a degenerative disease that would impact the spinal cord. It isn't uncommon for older dogs to develop these diseases in their backs. The illness can disrupt bodily functions and is very painful.
Kyle was faced with the toughest decision of his life. He wanted to keep Bodza alive, because the dog was his best friend. However, he also did not want to see his friend suffer anymore. As the disease was degenerative and incurable, Kyle decided to have the dog put down. He was accompanied to the vet by his fellow Air Force brothers and family members.
After spending a few minutes talking to and caring for Bodza, the doctor came in to administer the shot. Kyle didn't leave the dog's side throughout the entire ordeal. Kyle cradled the dog and sobbed as he passed. Someone found an American flag and wrapped it around the dog. This gesture was an homage to the dog's service and a symbol of the close relationship between man and dog. A picture of Kyle hugging the dog with the American flag has gone viral. Dog lovers and troop supporters both are in awe at the special bond between Kyle and Bodza.