SAN DIEGO — Leaving a pet is always tough, but it is particularly hard for members of the military who are sometimes gone for months at a time on deployment.

Now, a nonprofit that specifically serves active service members is helping ease their worries while they are away.

The program is called Dogs on Deployment and it connects members of the military with people who want to board their dogs while they are gone – the service is free.

Caitlin Knowles used the program when she left her eight-month-old puppy, Blue. As a Seaman in the Navy, she said it is hard to leave Blue behind, but is “really grateful this program is what it is.”

“I have been to seven countries in a year already. You never really have a set schedule. They could call you and give you a day’s notice for anything,” she said.

Fortunately, the non-profit group Dogs on Deployment put Caitlin in touch with someone eager to take care of Blue while she was gone.

Jenn Santel volunteered to board Blue while Caitlyn goes away for training for four months.

“It allows me to give directly back to a military member,” she said.  

Jenn has a dog of her own named Trooper, but Trooper and Blue have become fast friends.

“A lot of people on Dogs on Deployment, someone in their family is in the military. They really do understand the demands,” said

Christine Wilson is a helicopter pilot in the Navy. She was reunited with her dog, Maggie – though it was hard to be away from her.

“She is getting exercise. Love she needs. Staying in a warm loving home with a bed to sleep on each night – that means the world to me,” said Wilson.

For those interested, use the Dogs on Deployment website to volunteer to board someone’s dog. Active members can list their dogs if they need help.