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Military dogs are heroes. One dog named Bodza is one of those military dogs, and his story is one that we won’t soon forget. His owner, Kyle Smith, shared his tear-jerking story, and all dog lovers are going to fill an ocean of tears. During Kyle’s time in the U.S. Air Force, he was teamed up with Bodza as his partner. Together, they spent 189 days in Kyrgyzstan on a security mission. Prior to this, Bodza had been with the Air Force since 2006. Bodza helped save people’s lives as an explosive detection dog, and when Kyle was paired with the German Shepherd in 2012, they became instantly inseparable. “I loved working  with him because he taught me a lot – patience as a young handler, and how to understand that this job isn’t just about you,” Kyle told a for The DODO

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Source: Kyle Smith via The Dodo

Kyle Smith first met Bodza in 2012.

That year, Smith started working as a dog handler for the US Airforce. Bodza was one of the first dogs he worked with, and the two quickly bonded. Smith loved how talented Bodza was at sniffing out bombs. He also loved that Bodza didn’t take himself too seriously. When Bodza was off-duty, the goofy dog loved running around the compound and barking at shadows.

When Bodza retired in 2014, Smith asked to adopt him.

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Source: Kyle Smith via The Dodo

Smith’s request was granted, and Bodza went to live with his buddy in his quiet home. Bodza loved living with Smith—he followed Smith around, and he slept next to his bed every night.

Unfortunately, when Bodza turned eleven, his health started to fail.

Smith took him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. This incurable and progressive disease affects dogs’ spinal cords. Over time, dogs lose the ability to walk.

“His hind limbs lost their use and he could barely stand up anymore much less walk,” Smith told The Dodo. “He couldn’t handle the stress on his body and using the restroom was a task.”

By the summer of 2016, Bodza was in immense pain, and he could hardly lift himself off the floor. When Smith saw how much Bodza was suffering, he made the heartbreaking decision to put his best friend to sleep.

Smith, his Airforce brothers, and his supervisors took Bodza to the vet’s office. Before the vet put Bodza to sleep, Smith got down on the floor and said a tearful goodbye to his buddy. His Airforce brothers patted him on the back and let him cry.

When Bodza retired in 2014, Smith asked to adopt him. Smith’s request was granted, and Bodza went to live with his buddy in his quiet home.

“I held him in my arms the entire time,” Smith told Inside Edition. “I’ve never cried that much my entire life. I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.’”

After Bodza was put down, Smith’s boss immediately turned to the veterinarian and said:

“Where’s your American flag? You should have one in your building. Find it for me now.”

The vet quickly brought Smith’s boss the flag. He draped it over Bodza’s body, giving him a proper military send-off.

“The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they are,” Smith told Inside Edition. “For these guys to do this for a dog they’ve never even met… he got a good sendoff that day.”

“I will never forget how loyal he was,” Smith told The Dodo. “He was selfless – more than any human I’ve ever known. He’s done so much for next to nothing and did it with a smile. I miss him every day.”

Bodza did amazing work for his country, and he was given a beautiful send-off that was perfect for a hero. Grab a few tissues and check out the photos and moving video below.

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Source: Inside Edition, The Dodo