The ocean turns from stormy, wind-ruffled whitecaps to calm blue water rippling with diamonds that sparkle in the sun.

We walk along the beach picking up shells, while Pierre gallops in and out of the water, chases birds and explores the boulders that make up the sea wall. We’ve been here on Jekyll Island long enough for Pierre to renew his friendships with neighborhood dogs and the deer that inhabit the island.

These island deer are not much larger than Pierre and have his reddish-gold color. When we run across them on our walks through the palmetto woods or grassy fields they don’t seem afraid of us or of Pierre. Dog and deer stand staring at each other. The deer look him over with their great, luminous dark eyes. I wonder if they think he might be a strange kind of deer with curly fur. Sometimes they turn and leisurely walk away, blending into the shadows of the woods. Sometimes Pierre does chase the deer, but always playfully, as he might chase another dog or our cats at home.

Squirrels are another matter. Deer are friends. They are for playing, while squirrels are to be chased and barked into submission. For whatever reason, Pierre and squirrels have never been able to develop a good relationship. When he chases them up a tree, they look down from high branches and let go a volley of angry chatter.

Pierre lunges at the tree, barking, insulted and incensed by their chattering and by the fact that dogs can’t climb trees. This goes on until we manage to pull him away. Squirrels are enemies.

This week our grandson, Max, and his family came to stay for a few days and Pierre was overjoyed. Having an 8-year-old boy to chase through the house and the back yard is tops on Pierre’s list. Here was someone who could actually run, someone who enjoyed rolling around on the grass and jumping in the ocean.

Pierre became Max’s shadow. When we hiked through the palmetto forest, Max was sure Pierre would lead us home if we got lost. Unlike the two older people Pierre lives with, Max never tired of throwing sticks for the dog to retrieve. Even when we played hide-and-seek Pierre teamed up with Max to find me. He would quickly sniff out my hiding places and lead Max directly to them.

All good and happy things come to their completion. The day came when Pierre had to say good-bye to Max. Bags were packed. The last hug, the last goodbye and they were in the car, off to the airport, with Max waving from the back seat.

Pierre and I stood watching at the front window until the car was out of sight. The house suddenly seemed too quiet; quiet and empty and in complete disorder. The kitchen was a mess, the other rooms no better.

Before tackling the chaos I decided to spend some time resting on the family room couch. Pierre followed me and settled on the window seat below the large bay window that overlooks the wooded back yard. He stretched out, nose on paws, looking out the window with sad eyes. His playmate was gone.

It was back to sedate walks and quiet evenings. But wait! Look there’s a squirrel at the bird feeder! Enemy squirrel! Pierre jumped up, emitting a volley of warning barks. The squirrels were back. The chase was on.

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