When Bodza, an 11-year-old military working dog was put down last week due to health complications, his owner and former handler Kyle Smith draped an American flag over him in recognition of his service, reports Inside Edition.
Smith, an airman, was paired with Bodza as the dog's handler in 2012 on a deployment to Kyrgyzstan. He describes the special bond they immediately developed.
"He was one of those gentle giants," Smith said. "He was trained to bite, but I swear he only did it to make people happy. He had no interest in the world of hurting anyone."
Smith was eventually paired with another dog for a different assignment, but when Bodza retired in 2014, Smith's boss surprised him with adoption papers for Bodza.
"My boss said, 'Hey, go check your Jeep,' " Smith recalled. "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."
Bodza had trouble walking and eventually was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy, an incurable disease that affected his spinal cord. Smith later had to make the decision to put Bodza down.
Smith held the beloved German Shepherd the entire time.
At the suggestion of Smith's boss, they draped an American flag over Bodza's body, according to the news report.
"He got a good send-off that day," Smith said.
Mackenzie Wolf is an editorial intern for Military Times.