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Judith Paul

Judy Paul had a way of making matches that could last a lifetime.

“It was a gift really,” said her good friend Carrie Storrow. “She had this way of talking with people and learning about them. And then she would tell them about this dog that she knew.”

“She had a way of matching them and, for the most part, it always worked out,” Storrow said. “We are going to miss that gift of hers.”

Paul died in a tragic automobile accident on Sept. 27 while she was doing what she loved best – transporting two homeless puppies to her Corvallis home that she lovingly called “Dawg Gone Acres.”

“When I heard the news, I can remember thinking ‘anyone, but her,’” Storrow said.

Storrow was one of three women who worked with Paul to create the nonprofit organization, Montana Companion Animal Network.

“It was 2008. The four of us were on the board at the shelter and had just left,” Storrow said. “We wanted to do something to alleviate the over-population in shelters.”

Storrow had known Paul for almost a decade by then.

“It had been her dream for years to create a dog sanctuary,” Storrow said. “On her property in Corvallis, she set up a sanctuary where dogs weren’t kenneled or caged. Her original dream had been to help the shelter with those dogs that didn’t do well.”

“Some go kennel crazy,” she said. “They needed that extra attention. It took on a life of its own.”

The organization started working with more rescue operations. It also raised money and wrote grants to create a loan fund that helped people meet unexpected expenses in order for them to be able to keep their pets.

Whenever possible, the volunteers would also set up outside local businesses with their dogs wearing an “adopt me” bib in hopes of finding good homes for their canines.

“We’ve always had a lot of great volunteers who have helped us immensely,” Storrow said. “But, when it came right down to it, Judy was the one running it.”

Paul was always a do-it-yourself person. If wood needed to be split or the chimney needed to be cleared, she would do it without asking for any help.

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“She was private about her private life, but always willing to give when someone needed something,” Storrow said. “I don’t know if you could find anyone who had a bad word to say about her. She didn’t want to be known as a hero. Some people called her an angel, but she hated that. She said everyone needed to work together to do what they could to a make a difference.”

In doing her part, Paul touched hundreds of lives.

“There are close to 700 dogs that she personally was responsible in finding homes for,” Storrow said. “She was a very special human being.”

On Saturday and Sunday, people will gather to remember her remarkable life.

“We knew we needed to have two celebrations,” Storrow said. “So many people knew her in so many different ways.”

On Saturday, people will gather at the Bedford Building in Hamilton between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to reminisce. On Sunday, people are invited to bring their dogs to a celebration organizers are calling “Petals of Hope.” That gathering will occur at Hamilton’s River Park at 3 p.m.

“Judy’s hope was that one day there would be no more homeless pets,” Storrow said. “All Judy really wanted was for people and their dogs to be at home having a good time together. Anything they needed to make that happen, she did. If no else wanted to do it, she would do it.

“Everything was for the dogs,” she said. “She really made that her life. We’re all are going to miss her very much.”

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

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