This morning as I was pouring cream into my coffee, Rob came steaming into the kitchen.

It took only a quick glance to see frustration and anger.

“You won’t believe it! You really won’t believe it!” he roared.

Now, in our long years of marriage the words, “You won’t believe it” have never boded well for whatever came next. There was never anything like “We just won the lottery” or “Look at the huge tax return that came in the mail,” following the exclamation.

This morning’s revelation ran true to form. My first guess was it had something to do with Pierre. Unfortunately, I was right.

Apparently, Rob had noticed Pierre “messing around” by our old lawn mower, which was parked on the walk close to the back patio. When he finally went to check, he discovered Pierre had chewed through the starter cord. Close by lay several of the dog’s favorite strong, yummy chew toys, but by some strange doggie reasoning, he had decided the lawn mower starter cord might be a better bet, a new taste treat, perhaps.

Those of us who own dogs have learned, from puppy classes or from extensive reading, some information about the way their brains function. We are well aware, for instance, that any scolding must be done within several seconds of the aggravating behavior.

Pierre had enjoyed his chewing for a while, then apparently decided to take a break from his new “chew toy.” It would have been useless to scold him, since we didn’t actually catch him in the act, but it certainly would have given Rob a way to vent his anger. I could see he needed to slam a door or, better yet, indulge in a primal scream.

Having been loudly sent away from the mower, Pierre, quite unperturbed, strolled onto the patio, yawned, stretched, then settled down for a morning nap in the shade.

When I looked out the window some hours later, Rob was still working on the mower. He was determined to fix the old mower because he had promised to pass it on to our son-in-law, Brian. Our brand new mower sat in the garage, safely out of reach of Pierre’s teeth.

I left Rob muttering over the complicated instructions and headed for the greenhouse. Pierre got up from the shady patio and ran ahead of me up the hill. My greenhouse is tiny, just 8-by10-feet. Pierre is large. Working around a 100-pound, inquisitive dog in a very small space is challenging.

Once, several summers ago, when I’d opened the greenhouse door, Pierre and I discovered a small, frightened mouse inside. Luckily, the mouse had the presence of mind to run out to freedom while I held onto Pierre’s collar. Now every time I open the greenhouse door, Pierre is right there by my side, hoping for another mouse encounter.

No mice this time, only some bees circling the ceiling. Bees, wasps, yellow jackets and flies fascinate Pierre. He spent his time jumping around trying to catch bees while I did my best to get some seeds into planting frames.

On our way back to the house, I heard the unmistakable roar of a power mower starting. Rob had managed to fix the chewed cord. It had taken more than four hours out of his day.

Pierre ran to him, confidently expecting a loving reception. Rob looked down at him, then stroked the curly head.

“That’s my good boy,” he said. All was forgiven. We were at peace.

Irene Marinelli writes a weekly column for The Dominion Post. Write her at