Painting with your pets: prints of love

Teddy the artist with his assistants, Jordan (left) and Ed. KARIN SPICER/CONTRIBUTED

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Teddy the artist with his assistants, Jordan (left) and Ed. KARIN SPICER/CONTRIBUTED

Our friend, Vickie MacDonald, gave us a gift certificate to paint with our dog, Teddy, at The Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton in Miamisburg.

We were thrilled.

This activity was right up our alley.

Our home is filled with whimsical art. Colorful drawings, paintings and photographs. Sculptures of glass and clay. Many of the pieces have an animal theme.

I immediately made an appointment.

The Saturday afternoon we picked ended up being a perfect day to add a little color to our lives.

The skies were cloudy and periodically sputtered drops of rain.

We were greeted by Jes McMillian, the founding director. I asked her how she came up with the idea. Jes said she wanted an art activity for her friends and their fur babies to enjoy together.

Painting with your pet was created. A dozen dogs, from a Chihuahua to a lab, and their owners have participated.

The staff offered aprons to my husband Ed, daughter Jordan and me.

I didn’t take one. My official role would be photographer, documenting this moment in our family history.

If truth be told, I would be the first one with paint all over me. Better to be out of the creative flow.

The enthusiastic staff explained the process. They told us about simple designs we could create such as flowers or a house with each of our “prints” around it.

Ed and Jordan gathered around the 16-inch-by-20-inch canvas.

We were given choices of primary and secondary colors of water-based nontoxic paints to create our masterpiece with Teddy.

We don’t like muted colors. We choose bright and happy colors of purple, green, blue and red.

Teddy sniffed the canvas then licked it. The 55-pound lab tried to sit on it.

Jordan strategically moved the pooch around so he was sitting in front of the canvas. She then sat down beside him.

Ed sat across from Teddy.


» The book on dog books

We didn’t talk about design. We decided to just go for it.

Jordan gently dipped Teddy’s right front paw into the tepid, purple paint and placed it on the canvas.

The pooch didn’t like it one bit and withdrew his paw quickly.

Ed tried dipping “his boy’s” paw into the red paint and placing it on the canvas.

Teddy didn’t like it any better.

Jordan was not to be outdone by her “little brother.”

“Wait a minute, Teddy, how come you’ll play in mud puddles? Your paws get caked with mud and you’re having a cow over a little paint?”

Teddy wouldn’t look at her.

Jordan looked at me. I rolled my eyes and laughed. This was way too much fun … for me.

Jordan grunted at my uselessness and turned her gaze back to Teddy and the still-unpainted canvas.

She took several containers of paint and carefully poured them in patterns all over the canvas.

Jordan took Teddy’s leash and walked him around the room and then across the canvas.

She wiped the lab’s paws and repeated her “artistic technique.”

Ed gave Jordan “two thumbs up” for her problem-solving skills. The photographer was still laughing.

After several passes, Teddy and Jordan had created their masterpiece.

The staff helped to clean up Teddy. Teddy was thrilled with that part of the activity.

Then they offered paint for us to take home, so Abby, our cat, could add her paw print to the masterpiece.

We all declined.

Abby would never forgive us.

Ed has the work hanging in his home office right across from the light switch cover Jordan made in second grade.

He’s a proud dad.

Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at

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