There is nothing like the bond between a man and his dog, and that is especially true when they have been in service together.

Kyle Smith was deployed to Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Air Force in 2012, and while he was there he was paired with Bodza, a German shepherd.

The two immediately bonded, and when Bodza was finally retired from duty Kyle adopted him and took him home.

The two spent some wonderful years together, but when Bodza was 11 he developed degenerative myelopathy, an incurable disease of the spinal cord that leads to a loss of coordination in the hind limbs and often eventual paralysis.

Knowing Bodza was suffering, Kyle, who now works as a military dog instructor, knew the right thing to do would be to put him down.

Even though he knew it was for the best, though, the decision was heartbreaking.

“I held him in my arms the entire time,” Kyle said. “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.’”

Kyle had tried to hide his emotions from his superiors at work, but when they heard what was happening they rushed to be by his side. What they did next left Kyle completely stunned.

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

They brought the American flag and draped it over Bodza’s body, the hero’s honor the brave dog deserved.

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

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