Through each and every one of his 11 years on this planet, Bodza, a German Shepherd and military dog, had served America.

So when veterinary doctors recommended he be put down after suffering dire health complications, his handler and owner and best friend — U.S. soldier Kyle Smith, who had been paired with the canine in 2012 during a deployment in Kyrgyzstan, embraced him at the hospital for a final goodbye.

“I held him in my arms the entire time,” he said. “I’ve never cried that much in my entire life.”

“It was the saddest thing — he was dragging himself along the floor because it was hard to maneuver. Instead of putting him on the table, I had a minute with him on the floor. I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, ‘I’m going to miss you.'”

Then he found an American flag, and gave the brave veteran a proper sendoff.

“He was one of those gentle giants. He was trained to bite, but I swear he only did it to make people happy. He had no interest in the world in hurting anyone.”

“My favorite thing about him was he didn’t care what you were doing, he just wanted to be there doing it with you. Pretty much my whole career with him was walking around something, or walking to somewhere.”