You know, I love the force, and I’m proud to have devoted myself to law enforcement these past five years. I’ve seen the city and met every kind of person you can meet. But lately, the gray fur’s been creeping in, and I find I get more and more winded chasing down those drug runners. It’s time I got serious about retirement planning—and, specifically, about choosing the pension bone that’s right for me.

The fact is, I could walk away right now, get a respectable pension bone, and feel great about it. On the other hand, if I stick it out for two more years, I’ll get the really big bone. I mean the one my buddy Jimbo retired with last year: a 2-foot-long piece of unbleached rawhide, stewed in beef broth, smoked to perfection, and pure heaven to tear your teeth into.

That’s the kind of bone you can chew on all day for years and still have something to leave to your pups.

I’m not a fancy dog or anything—I could most likely make do with the $10 Petco bone I’m in line for now. But then I look at what happened to my old partner Blackie. He took early retirement, and that cheap plastic bone they gave him was down to a nub in three months. I still remember the look in his eyes: This is the thanks I get? Six years of putting his life on the line for this damn city, and now he spends his days moping around the yard looking for decent-sized sticks to chew up.

Another buddy of mine retired on disability with a bad hip—his package was just a length of knotted rope, which is barely even fun, and then only when there’s someone around to tug on the other end. Well, I’m not going out like that. I’ll keep my nose down and my muzzle shut for two more years if it means I can spend my twilight years in style.

Man, that’d be nice, just relaxing and gnawing all day on that giant bone. I’m sure I’d take an occasional break to bark at squirrels or freak out when the doorbell rings, but what I’d enjoy most is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that delicious bone is right there in front of me, no matter what.

Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple. The department is facing budget cuts, and in the next year or two, pensions could go on the chopping block. It might be smarter to take the smaller bone now and bury it out back next to the big elm tree—take it before the city screws me over with some drastically scaled-back biscuit-treat pension.

And then there’s the possibility they could eliminate my position entirely, letting me go before I earn the big bone. Then I’d be left chewing on the severance tennis ball. To hell with that!

Lastly, there’s the lethal risk involved in staying on the job. It’s a morbid thought, but I wouldn’t be the first dog who’s gone down in the line of duty trying to make it to that big pension bone.

Of course, I could always try semi-retirement. I know my way around the streets pretty well, so I could probably handle a part-time gig leading a blind guy around the city. I might even be able to get some freelance work in the domestic-security sector, sniffing baggage at the airport and whatnot. Those aren’t bad ways to supplement a pension: keep the Milk-Bones rolling in, maybe get a pig ear now and then for being a good boy.

So I have some options. What I’ve learned over time is that the key to a successful retirement is to plan strategically and not just sit around licking your balls all day, although there will always be a certain amount of that.

With any luck, there’s a chance I may yet avoid being put in a 6-by-6-foot kennel at a shelter where I spend my last months hoping someone will just come around and euthanize me already.