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While initially distrustful of vampires upon the revelation of their existence, Sam is open enough to buy a case of Tru Blood for the bar (which subsequently spoils due to lack of sales). This distrust is heightened when Bill Compton first walks into Merlotte's and catches the attentions of Sookie, spoiling Sam's attempted revelation of feelings for her. While Sam's attempts at doing so are continually foiled, usually by his own shyness, he maintains a protective and surreptitious watch on her in his dog form.
It is during a late night drinking confessional, while lamenting the lack of physical intimacy in their lives, that Tara propositions Sam for sex. After an initial reluctance, due in part to Tara's employment status (Sam is her boss), but more so his lingering feelings for Sookie, Sam acquiesces and the two share a brief sexual encounter. This one night stand brings the two closer together.
Following the murder of Dawn Green, Sam increases his protective watch over Sookie. He finally gets his chance to express his feelings for her when it becomes apparent that Sookie and Bill's relationship is on the rocks, and he asks her out on a date. This ends badly however, when the discussion moves to vampires and the inherent dangers of dating one, to which Sookie takes affront.
When Adele Stackhouse is murdered, Sam and Bill agree to put their differences aside to protect her granddaughter Sookie. While Sookie grieves, Sam and Tara's mutual loneliness rears its head, and the two again share a bed. Tara is preoccupied with her mother's issues however, and leaves Sam during the night.
When Sookie's mood at work the next day reveals that she and Bill shared a bed, Sam's fears for her. His concerns over vampires are fanned further when three vampires enter the bar and threaten the patrons, and he is powerless to stop them. It is only when Bill arrives and orders them out that an uneasy peace is restored. Sam begrudgingly respects Bill's actions.
To blow off steam, Sam goes for a 'doggy-run' through the woods, and after changing back into human form (sans clothing), is unknowingly spotted by Detective Andy Bellefleur. When the three vampires who threatened the bar patrons are subsequently destroyed in a house fire the next day, Sam is questioned by the police. He is forced to lie about his naked run, claiming that he came from a family of nudists and runs once a year to honor them. Andy of course investigates this claim, and when no evidence can be found to support it, or indeed any of Sam's family or personal history, Sam's position on the Bon Temps murderer suspect list goes up.
Sam again takes up the mantle of Sookie's protector when Bill is called away 'on business', and in dog form keeps a watchful eye upon her. His desires get the better of him however when Sookie invites her canine protector inside for the evening. His is forced to reveal his true nature to Sookie when he falls asleep on the foot of her bed and reverts to human form. Sookie is obviously terrified when she is woken by snoring, finding Sam naked at her feet, but Sam reassures her that he is indeed the border collie that has been following her around by changing shape before her.
While his continuing messages to Tara go unanswered, Sam assists Sookie in investigating the Bon Temps' murders. Sam is eventually crucial in discovering the true identity of the killer when he recognizes Dawn's scent on René Lenier's work vest. He races to Sookie's rescue and manages to distract Rene in the killing act long enough for Sookie to decapitate him with a shovel. He is then instrumental in saving Bill's life, rescuing the sun-damaged vampire by burying him in an open grave.
Sookie, heavily medicated on painkillers following her altercation with René, reveals her admiration and platonic love for Sam, and expresses her wish for him to not hide and show people his the beauty of his 'true self'. While Tara and Lafayette believe this to be a statement on Sam's caring nature, Sookie reveals Sam's ability to shapeshift, however Sam is able to deflect this by blaming it on Sookie's drug-addled state.
Sam's relief over Sookie's safety is short-lived, however, and his concerns turn towards his own safety when he discovers where Tara has been for the last few days; living with Maryann Forester, the source of his ill-gotten cash.