It only took Jean a day to arrange the ‘phone call for Clive to talk to Sam.
“Sam,” he said. “I think I’ve found the right dog for you. He hasn’t finished his training yet – but I don’t think that will take long. I’ve known a lot of dogs, but he is the cleverest dog I’ve ever known. I would really like to keep him, but if he decides he would like to be your partner – then he’s yours.”
Sam hardly knew what to say.
“Mr Baker, that’s wonderful – but I’ll have to talk to my mother – and my stepfather – and there’s school and ... and ... and ... But when can I come to see him?”
“Pretty well when you like,” Clive replied. “Look, why don’t you talk it over with your family and decide when you would like to come here? I’ll send you some forms and a map of where to find us and all that. Is that okay?”
Sam hardly had time to say, “Yes, and thank you,” before Clive Baker put the ‘phone down and looked round at Ben who had been sitting looking at him.
“Ben,” he said. “It’s time you started work for a new master”.
It was George who drove Sam to meet Clive Baker and Ben at Canine Partners. They talked very little. Although Sam had come to realise that George was something of a friend and a lot more understanding than his own mother, he was still the man who had ousted his own father, and so in Sam’s mind he was partly responsible for his death. For his part, George respected Sam’s feelings and tried not to intrude, but eventually as they approached Midhurst, he broke the silence.
“Sam – what do you expect the dog to do?”
There was a long pause. “I don’t think I know. Mr Shah said he would be my friend, whatever happened, and my helper – yes – I remember he said even my bodyguard. Sometimes, George, I could do with that. Some people think that because I can’t use my legs, I can’t use my brain and they try it on. Perhaps they wouldn’t if I had a dog.”
George nodded as he overtook a slower car, then turned again to the boy.
“I’ve talked to your mother and you know she wasn’t keen about you having a dog.”
Sam began to speak, but George cut him short. “No – it’s alright – she’s changed her mind – but it will be up to you to make sure he doesn’t cause any problems. If he’s yours, you will be responsible for him – whatever he does – but I’ll always help if I can.”
Not for the first time since he had come home from hospital Sam felt grateful to George. His “Thank you,” was sincere.
from "Ben's Story" by Norman Tebbit