Air Force Sgt. from Gastonia says farewell to his partner, 'working dog'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The image, which has been shared thousands of times across social media, is powerful. It’s the loss of an unspoken bond between a man and his dog, who both served this country.

Bodza, a canine, was paired with Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith, who grew up in Gastonia, for four deployments, and provided security for many U.S. officials.

[IMAGES: Air Force Sgt. Kyle Smith and his dog Bodza]

When Bodza was retired in 2014, Smith took him home as a pet.

But in the past few months, Bodza had been sick. He was in pain and suffering and had to be put down.

Smith gave Bodza a final meal, at McDonalds.

“He got a Big Mac. By the way, he didn’t leave a crumb,” Smith told Channel 9 anchor Scott Wickersham over Skype.

[RELATED: Military K9 gets final honor as partner drapes remains in American flag]

When Bodza was put down, Smith was by his side.

“I hugged him and told him that I loved him a lot, 'I’m gonna miss you,'” Smith said.

When a fellow military canine trainer draped an American flag over Bodza, it meant a lot to Smith. He gave his friend one final hug, which was captured in that photo.

“He was as much a part of the Air Force as me,” Smith said. “I couldn't have done the mission I did without him there.”

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