We study solitary wave solutions of the higher order nonlinear Schrodinger equation for the propagation of short light pulses in an optical fiber. Using a scaling transformation we reduce the equation to a two-parameter canonical form. Solitary wave (1-soliton) solutions exist provided easily met inequality constraints on the parameters in the equation are satisfied. Conditions for the existence of N-soliton solutions (N≥2) are determined; when these conditions are met the equation becomes the modified KdV equation. A proper subset of these conditions meet the Painleve plausibility conditions for integrability.