Ahem. Testing. One, two. Woof. Is this thing on? Yes? Hello. Thank you for coming out today. My name is McGruff Thomas-Clegg, but you probably know me better by my professional moniker, McGruff the Crime Dog.—Usually there’s applause right now. Never mind.

As many of you know, I’ve been taking a bite out of crime since 1980, when I emerged onto the national scene as a trench-coat wearing, no-nonsense bloodhound. This was a long time ago, of course, and much has changed. When I started out, things were simpler. The Internet wasn’t weighing us down with its proliferation of public-shaming websites, nor was the paparazzi such a menace. I was able to sniff around, so to speak, with relative privacy. I diligently launched investigations. I cornered criminals. I bared my teeth sometimes. I worked hard, even when nobody noticed. I was a good doggie.

And while I’m not here to trump up my record or make excuses, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure in being an anthropomorphic public figure and serving as a role model to millions of impressionable children across this great nation of ours. Yet I always rose to the occasion. Remember my “Users are losers and losers are users” song? I wrote that, sang lead vocals, and meant it. Users are losers. And losers are users. Please don’t try to tell me that that song hasn’t kept generations of kids off drugs. When you boil it all down, that’s what’s important. Not my personal life. Don’t you see?

But I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: By your own definition, aren’t you a loser, McGruff? Aren’t you a user? The short answer is … yes. Sort of. More of a supplier than a user. The longer, more nuanced answer, is that we all make mistakes. OK? Mine just involved offering bribes to three undercover FBI agents, illegally videotaping my political enemies, laundering millions of dollars, using a Penske moving truck to transport barrels of cocaine across Nevada and selling some light machine gunnery to a desert-based militia.

Allegedly. Woof.

I’m only human. And while I’m not technically human, I do walk on my hind legs, I talk, I sing, I give speeches, and I wear a long beige coat. So I want to appeal to your sense of decency here, humanish dog-to-man, before the Huffington Post runs some other 200-point headline about my reported failures. Their latest rhyming header, “HANDCUFF MCGRUFF!” was a real winner. Sheesh. Do people really get paid to write that stuff?

Now, if you’ve ever made a big mistake in your life, please raise your paws. [Sigh.] You know what I mean. Hands. I mean hands. C’mon now, get ‘em up there. This should be all of you. No exceptions. Now, take a look around and ask yourselves this: Should McGruff Thomas-Clegg, a.k.a. McGruff the Crime Dog, be punished for his shortcomings more severely than the rest of us? Sure, he’s an easy target, but should he lose his hallowed post as spokesdog for the National Crime Prevention Council because of a couple of little nitpicky legal mishaps? You can put your paws down now.

And while I’m not looking for an immediate answer, I will say this: building awareness to crime prevention is my life. Don’t take that away from me. I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve been publicly embarrassed. My nephew, Scruff, will barely look at me.

Please. Let’s start the forgiveness. Let’s try to remember the good times. I was on a postage stamp, for goodness sakes. You’ve all licked ol’ McGruff. And I would lick you back if I could, if you’d let me. I’m pausing right now for applause.—Never mind. Will somebody at least come scratch under my chin? Stress gives me fleas. Anybody? No? That’s fine. I’ll use the edge of this podium.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Yes. Much better. Sorry, I’m drooling a little.

Look—my enduring legacy is this: I have convinced numerous Americans to take a more active role in preventing crime. Now, ultimately, did that backfire and get me caught? Is that the reason I’m facing federal litigation? It’s truly hard to say. I don’t know if those three FBI agents looked up to me when they were children. All I can tell you is, I should’ve done a better job listening to my own message and staying on point with what I was preaching. Or, at the very least, patting down my so-called friends. Bunch of turncoats.

In the meantime, I won’t stop singing my anti-drug songs or appearing at school assemblies until there’s a court order keeping me away from places where children gather. It sounds like that’s a real possibility, yes, the court order, but I remain optimistic. It’s in my nature. I’m one-sixteenth Golden Retriever. And fifteen-sixteenths sorry.

I believe I’ve made my point. It’s a full moon tonight and I’d like to go howl at it. As I exit, please take one of the coloring pages I’ve supplied, free of charge. The theme of the page is “second chances.” You’ll notice it’s a picture of me, running freely through a field, pursuing a real criminal. Thank you for listening, big woof to my canine brothers and sisters, and goodnight.