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  • Kristyn Madgwick

Muddy Paw Prints



I wasn’t always a dog person. I think it has something to do with the fact that I didn’t grow up with dogs. My mom was a single mom supporting two kids while working full time, and she was simply too busy to take care of pets. She’s also a meticulous housekeeper, so muddy paw prints on her freshly washed floors were less than desirable. I have the same housekeeping habits as my mom, so I’ve always enjoyed paw-print free floors as well. Until two years ago, that is.


My son Gabriel was an unfortunate high school senior in the doomed year of 2020. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that March 13, 2020 would be his last day of high school, but thanks to Covid-19, that reality hit all of us right between the eyes.


Gabe is our only child, and he’s the light of our world, so we had big plans for his senior year. His graduation party was going to be one for the books. We hired a band, rented a tent, had a caterer lined up, and the invitations were designed and ready to be mailed. His senior trip was going to be something special, too. He wanted to go out west, so the plan was to fly into Bozeman in early June where we’d explore southern Montana and northern Wyoming. After that, we were heading up to Glacier National Park and then driving east to Mount Rushmore. Everything was planned, hotels and plane tickets booked, but much to our dismay, we had to cancel that trip.


It was a hard blow for our son. Like everyone else, we were isolated and alone and although the three of us were together, it was still lonely and definitely boring at times for an 18-year-old kid. He missed his friends, he missed school, he missed going to the gym, and he missed companionship.


One day, we were taking a walk when we passed a family training their brand new puppy. I remember Gabe’s eyes lit up when he saw that dog, so the wheels in my head started to turn. Christine, a friend of mine, owns a farm out in Clarkston where they breed miniature American Shepherds. She’s one of those people who talks about her dogs constantly. I remember one time, she said to me “this breed is like potato chips, you can’t have just one.”


I went to her business page on Facebook and low and behold, one of her dogs just had puppies! I sent her a message inquiring about the dogs, and sure enough she had one puppy that hadn’t yet been adopted. She sent Will and I a photo and we immediately fell in love. “This is meant to be” we said. We showed the photo to Gabe and his eyes lit up the same way they did when we passed that family with the puppy on our walk. We knew she had to be ours, and two weeks later, she was.


We traded our clean floors for one with constant muddy paw prints. Blue has brought so much joy and happiness to our family. Those dark days of quarantine were filled with laughter and light, all because of our little Blue. But like Christine said, you can’t have just one, so a year later we adopted Blue’s half-sister and named her Hazel. Blue and Hazel. Our little fury, pink-nosed, muddy-pawed bundles of love. And now, we’re those people who talk about their dogs in every conversation, our floors are never clean, our shoes are never safe, our lives are never dull, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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