Yes, it’s that time of year—and yet again it’s time for vets across America to wring their hands over the holiday pet thing. It’s a love-hate issue for us, for sure. While we condemn the trivialization of petdom that comes with a rash “Puppy Palace” purchase, how else would we manage to ring in the New Year with a shower of new patients?

But let me be fair: A large enough percentage of holiday pets are planned. After all, this is one of the few times parents can get kudos for a whole-family present they picked out with care at the exact time of year everyone’s best equipped to handle the new responsibilities (vacation time!). These thoughtful people tend not to be the genesis of any vet’s New Year’s complaint.

Rather, what I decry is the last-minute strip-mall puppy purchase that comes about after a sleepless night on the twenty-third: Will the PlayStation and American Girl doll be enough to gratify my insatiable offspring? Perhaps I should buy this pseudo-Cavalier puppy with the cute runny nose and worry about the holes in the fence later.

These are the humans that make my blood boil. Next thing you know the whole family’s crying across the exam room table, begging you to make right a situation that’s not going to get any better without a sizable cash outlay they swear they ain’t got.

Happy Holidays to you, too.

And if you think I exaggerate I’ll swear on a stack of my Internal Medicine textbooks that this is the way of it—every year without fail.

The reality, though, is that the Holidays can be a slow time of year—especially for vets in colder climes. Holiday babies make up for it to a pretty large extent. So we welcome them with open arms, offering “Holiday pet” specials and such.

Still, I’d prefer to spend my New Year’s skiing in Alaska or basking in Barbados than treating the kennel coughs, distempers and parvoviruses that attend December pet store overcrowding and the annual puppy mill ramp-up to the “jolly” season. Too bad such luxuries elude me right when I need the break most—just in time for the guilt that comes with raking in some much-needed cash off the backs of sad-eyed pups and their ignorant owners.