After seven months on deployment, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Jean Mathison reunited with his best friend, a Shiba Inu named Kyoto, at Balboa Park on Saturday.
“It was hot, went by quick,” said Mathison, reflecting on the past few months, as he stood holding Kyoto’s leash for the first time since summer.
Mathison said the majority of his time on deployment was spent in Iraq. While he was away, he was able to find someone to watch Kyoto through a non-profit called Dogs on Deployment.
According to its website, Dogs on Deployment is a national organization that helps connect service members with volunteers who can care for their pets while they are deployed.
“There was a lot going on because of COVID and the uncertainty of this deployment,” Mathison said. “I kind of had to figure out what to do with Kyoto.”
Mathison said that once he found Sonya Grigorian through Dogs on Deployment, he knew Kyoto would be ok. Grigorian spent the past seven months taking care of Kyoto and said volunteering with this group has been a rewarding experience, especially during the pandemic.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” Grigorian said. “It was something that really meant a lot to me, to give back.”
Mathison said that now that he is back, he plans to take time off and continue his adventures with Kyoto. The pair enjoys hiking and being outdoors.
Photos: U.S. Navy Petty Officer Reunites With Dog After Months-Long Deployment
“All in all it was tough, but I knew he would be in good hands,” said Mathison. “He’s my best friend.”