"Now if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you did your job," he said.

It was my turn to grit my teeth.  I started palpating the little bulldog and immediately found an umbilical hernia deep enough to put my thumb in.  So I did my job.  I refused to sign the health certificate.

I am always surprised by the number of puppy stores I see in South Florida.  Perhaps having been to the puppet show and seeing the strings has altered my view somewhat.  I've talked to puppy store owners and brokers about improving the quality of life for their charges, but the bottom line is that these stores are doing a brisk business by meeting a very real demand.  I learned a lot about the puppy business that day, and I didn't even work a full day. Which brings me to the end of my story.

At lunchtime, I was summoned to the practice manager's office.  I went in loaded for bear, ready to defend myself and my medicine.  As it turned out, I had wasted my energy.  She handed me a check for half of a day's work and told me my services were no longer required.  I was fired.

As I gathered my things, I ran into the sullen technician one last time.  Her face showed a faint hint of sympathy as she told me how sorry she was that things didn't work out.  

"So what are you going to do next?" she asked.

"Who knows?" I said. "I guess I could always go back to hugging trees."

I could have sworn I saw her crack a smile.