If you’ve ever been in a Santa Fe home with Saltillo tile you may have noticed a tile here or there with paw prints. Why is this and how did the paw prints get there? Well, the prints occur because in the manufacturing process, the wet clay tiles are laid in wide open spaces where they semi-dry in the sun. Once the tiles are dry enough to move to a kiln, they are removed from the ground and kiln-fired in order to fully harden. While laid about on the ground, animals who are common to the area roam and wander and leave their marks. The most common animals who are roaming the grounds where Saltillo tiles are drying in the sun can include (but are not limited to): coyotes, dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, birds, and even wolves in rare circumstances. Dog and coyote paw prints are the ones that most people find. There is actually a superstition in the Southwest United States and Northern Mexico, that every floor laid with Saltillo tile must have a “protector” tile set within its boundaries for good luck. That protector tile will bear the imprint of an animal’s foot print and is often laid in a very visible area. If you have such a tile in your Santa Fe home, lucky you! But if you are not the superstitious type, then at least you have a good conversation piece to share with guests!