“Wake up, my darlings,” said Mrs. Duncan, her voice like birds welcoming the sun. She had already started a tape of Mozart. “Today we are going to finger paint to music. Each of you will have three colors. You are to paint what you feel from the music.”
Dundee stretched and thought about what his teacher said. I saw Mom paint Tyler’s room once. Not sure I want to paint our classroom. Think I’ll just lie here a while and let the other students do it. When everyone else seemed excited, Dundee got up not wanting to miss anything.
During their nap, Mrs. Duncan rearranged the desks so that two desks faced each other. She helped the students put on their painting shirts and had each student grab some newspaper to cover their desks. Then she gave each student a big sheet of shiny white paper. With a small pot of water and three pots of finger paints in the center of the desks, the students were ready to paint. Dundee got to work opposite Kevin. “Wow, finger painting is so fun,” said Kevin. “If we play our cards right, we can run over into math time.” Kevin put a dark color on the paper, then blended in a lighter gray one. “Look,” Kevin said. “I made green like the leaves.”
He stared at the colors that Kevin was mixing, still as a statue. Mrs. Duncan came over to Dundee. “Tyler, you haven’t begun yet. Just go ahead and start painting. I bet there’s a masterpiece waiting to form on the paper.”
Dundee didn’t notice Mrs. Duncan move away from his desk. Kevin was laughing and flicking the paints to form splotches on the paper. Dundee turned his head to look at Jessica who was one desk over. She had two colors that she was mixing. First she added one color, then another, then some white. “Tyler, look,” Jessica said. “ I made a sunset.” “It’s bea–u-ti-ful,” said Dundee with his mouth slightly open in awe.
Dundee turned back to the paints. Slowly, he touched one. It was sticky and had a funny smell. He leaned closer to sneak a few sniffs when no one was looking. He almost took a lick, but figured everyone would notice his strange tongue or a blotch around his mouth and under his nose. He enjoyed the feeling of the paint as he made circles on the paper. Circles – a new movement for him. When he was a dog, he never moved his paws in a circle.
But the best part was the color. All he could say over and over again was, “Wow.” Since dogs only see the world in black and white with shades of gray, seeing color was shocking, then completely wonderful. Dundee dipped into the blue, then the yellow, and mixed the two to create the most wonderful aqua. “Tyler,” said Kevin, “Looks like the color in the swimming pool.”
Dundee nodded his head, unable to say anything more than, “Wow,” as he blended the colors. Unable to stop himself he reached over to Jessica’s desk and dipped his fingers into the red and added it to the yellow. “Nice, Tyler. It’s the sky while the sun is still snoozing,” she said.
Dundee was lost in a kaleidoscope of colors. He didn’t notice that the other children had already cleaned up and had hung their painting shirts on hooks in the back of the classroom. Mrs. Duncan put her hand on his shoulder gently. “Tyler, it’s time to clean up. Didn’t you hear me? You must be enjoying this painting lesson.” Dundee nudged his head under her hand and Mrs. Duncan gave him a pat on the head. It felt so good. Humans are easy to train, he decided.
As he cleaned his desk, he noticed for the first time all the colors and patterns in the classroom, on the children’s clothes, on the books, on the American flag. And, for once, his eyes took over from his sense of smell which dominated his life as a dog. I love this place. He made a decision. How can I break it to Tyler that I want to stay a human? he wondered.
Mrs. Duncan clapped her hands. “Let’s all go to the restroom and wash our hands.”
Dundee looked up. Restroom? What’s a restroom? I thought we already rested. He looked for his friend in the line. Guess I’ll have to watch Kevin again.