When you’re in college and your dog needs a $3000 surgery

Kareem and my oldest son, Harrison, have been friends for a number of years. They are friends even though Kareem graduated from North Oconee High School – the cross-town rival from Harrison’s alma mater. Kareem is one of the few kids Harrison runs around with who I’ve never met. Nevertheless, I feel like I know Kareem because I always feel like I know Harrison’s friends from the stories he tells me about them.

Typically Harrison’s stories are not particularly flattering toward his friends, and I might be forgiven if I wondered at the wisdom Harrison uses when selecting the guys he runs around with.

But I’m not so old that I can’t remember what it was like to be 21-years-old, and there is not very much that Harrison and his friends get into that can rival the things I did when I was their age. On the whole, Harrison and his friends are not perfect, but they are good kids who are becoming better adults.

And I’ve got this soft spot for Harrison and his buddies. I see them doing things that remind me of myself, and I can’t help but like these kids.

So it made me very sad when Harrison told me about Kareem’s recent troubles.

“I really feel bad for Kareem,” Harrison told me the other night while we were sitting at home watching television.

I reached for the remote and turned off the TV so that we could talk.

The cynical among you will think I turned off the TV to give Harrison the impression that he had my undivided attention and that this is some sort of parenting psychology trick. The idealists will think I did this so that Harrison could actually have my undivided attention.

The realists will understand that, like my father before me, I have all kinds of trouble hearing anything anymore, so I have to cut off the television so there is no background noise drowning out whatever Harrison is saying to me.

“Why do you feel bad for Kareem?” I asked.

“He’s got to put down one of his dogs,” Harrison said. “Kareem has a pair of Rottweilers – Lennox and Gus. Lennox was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.”

“That’s awful,” I said. “How old is the dog?”

“Just a couple of years old,” Harrison said.

Kareem with his dog Lennox.

If I have a soft spot in my heart for Harrison and his friends, I also have a soft spot in my heart for college students who get dogs, in part because my son is one of them.

I’m sure that Kareem’s dad had the same conversation with him that I had with Harrison last summer when Harrison adopted Willow, his Labrador puppy.

This is what I said to Harrison when he announced he was going to get a puppy: “Dogs are expensive. You’re in college. As a college student, by definition, you are too broke and too irresponsible to have a living thing that depends on you for its survival.”

Harrison’s only response was to go get the puppy, bring her home and introduce her to me, and I immediately agreed that no one needed a puppy as much as Harrison needed a puppy. I mean, what am I going to say to a 20-year-old kid holding a sweet little puppy who already thinks he’s the best?

In the intervening months, I’ve seen that I was right on both counts. Not only is Harrison too irresponsible to have a puppy, but he also needed that puppy more than anyone needed a puppy. Since Harrison brought Willow home last summer, I’ve seen him rise to the challenge of being responsible for this living being. And when he walks across the room, she watches his every move. That dog dotes on him. She likes me and “Granny Jean” and Harrison’s brothers, but she loves Harrison. They’re best pals, Willow and Harrison, and I was absolutely right to tell him to go ahead and adopt her.

I’m sure Kareem was likewise lectured by his father about the responsibilities associated with dog ownership.

But what do you say to a boy holding a puppy? Boys, even college-age boys, and puppies are supposed to be together. Dogs need boys, and boys need dogs. It is natural and right that boys should have dogs.

Believing these things to be true, I felt terrible for Kareem when Harrison told me about Lennox.

“He loves those dogs,” Harrison told me, and then proceeded to scroll through a bunch of photos on his phone – pictures of Kareem, Lennox and Gus. Apparently Kareem’s favorite activity is to put sunglasses on his dogs and take pictures of them.

“Is there anything he can do about it?” I asked. “Isn’t there a surgery for hip dysplasia?”

“There is, but it costs $3,000,” Harrison said.

Something else I know for sure about college students is that $3,000 might as well be $3 trillion. College students typically don’t have ready access to thousands of dollars. When I was in college I was lucky if I had access to a thousand pennies.

“They’re Rottweilers, but they’re both big babies because he spoils them,” Harrison said.

As he said it, I looked over at spoiled Willow, who is also a big baby, and imagined how awful it would be for Harrison if Willow needed a $3,000 surgery.

So today when I saw that Kareem started a Go Fund Me account to try to raise the money for Lennox’s surgery, I donated $30 to it. I understand that $30 isn’t a lot of money when you need $3,000, but the point of Go Fund Me is that a lot of people can donate a little to raise a lot.

I just know that I would hate to be in college and need $3,000 to save my 2-year-old dog. So if you’ve got a spare $10 or $15 and want to help out a kid who spoils his dogs, you can click this link and donate a little to help Kareem and Lennox.

And to do what I can to help, for the first four people who donate $20 or more, if you’ll mention “Four Things My Wife Hates” in the comments on Kareem’s Go Fund Me page (leave the comment when you make the donation and include your name in the donation – don’t make it anonymous) and send me your address through the Four Things Facebook page, I will mail you a signed copy of the book “Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings.”

Rob Peecher is author of “Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings” and he’s got a soft spot for boys and dogs.