Sam He Am--My Slobbering Stalker

by Torry Martin

Dear Journal,

I know everyone thinks I've been imagining that my neighbor Miss Willow is a spy. But how else do you explain her climbing into Willow Manor through a broken window? She's been doing it for weeks. What's weirder is that she climbs in at midnight and climbs out before sunrise. She has to be a spy.

Or maybe she's a cat burglar! (But why would she burgle cats?)

Anyway, I'm also being stalked. That's right. s-t-a-l-k-e-d! And this isn't in my imagination either because Connie saw my stalker just the other day.

"Who's your friend?" Connie asked.

"What friend?"

"The one who's following you."

"You can see him, too?"

"Of course—he's right behind those bushes."

"I knew it!"

I tossed the Whit's End mail to her and ran off at full speed!

But I'd just had lunch, so my stomach was full and I couldn't run very fast. My average speed ranged between a one-footed hop and a full-throttled skip. Then I tripped on something that felt like my own foot.

Next thing I knew, I lay sprawled out at the mercy of my mysterious stalker. I knew I was completely licked, primarily because I felt the licking. My face got slathered in saliva from a 127-pound canine that appeared to be 50 percent black Labrador, 50 percent Airedale terrier and 100 percent big.

I've named him Sam the Stalker, but I'll call him Sam for short, even though he's anything but. Sam's a great big dog who's asleep on my feet as I type. I've made calls and put up posters to find his owner. I don't know what I'll do if an owner doesn't claim him.

Ya know, I suspect Sam's from California because he keeps climbing onto my surfboard coffee table. Either he likes to surf or wishes he were taller. And he's been making a mess, so I went to find a library book on dog training.

While at the library, I decided to investigate my nighttime neighbor. Ya know what I found out? Miss Ulily Mae Willow is not a 65-year-old spy as I originally thought. I feel embarrassed now for even thinking it. Turns out she's a 68-year-old spy. She just looks young for her age. I discovered her real age through a birth announcement in a newspaper from 1942.

I also found out that Willow Manor used to be a fancy showplace. One newspaper photo showed the Willow family hosting a party for the governor some 60 years ago, when the house looked great, unlike now. I'm thinking it'd take a whole lot of love to ever restore Willow Manor to its original splendor.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I know some people for whom it would take a whole lot of love to ever change them, just like for a certain dog named Sam. I'm gonna have to make a note to think about that.

Note: Think about how much love it would take to change a person, a house or a dog . . . and who could do which.

Uh, oh! Gotta go because something is on the coffee table!

This article first appeared in the March 2010 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2010 by Torry Martin. Used by permission. Illustration © Gary Locke.