Gun Dog Diaries: An Ode to Steeler


“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.” - Sydney Jeanne Seward

Back in April, I said goodbye to my old pal Steeler—an American Cocker Spaniel as loveable as he was loyal and as much part of the family as any of us. As I reflect on what he meant to me, I can’t seem to remember a time in our 15 years together that I moved from the shop to the trail and back without his four-legged shadow close at my heels. 

In his hay day, Steeler was quite the grouser. A laser-focused flushing dog, he could spring to wing with the best of ‘em. Man, is it fun to watch a good bird dog work. But, as any of you who’ve had ‘em understand, a dog is so much more than the birds he flushes... 

When I got Steeler back in 2006, it was me and him against the world. He was my wingman in life and in the field—a pal who was always excited to see me and a hunting buddy I could count on to never have better things to do. 

When I first met my now wife Lindsay, Steeler dutifully assumed a new role in my world—making space for her in our lives through the transitions of dating, marriage and settling into our first home (and the two that came after). 

He was there when our little family of three became four with the addition of our second spaniel, Hobbs— then five, six and finally seven. It was then Steeler became a protector, a playmate and a soft place to lay. Turns out man’s best friend is girl’s best friend, too.  

As they do for all of us, life’s seasons inevitably caught up to Steeler and he was resigned to trade the thrill of the hunt for the chill of the snooze. The retirement was much deserved, and his final years were filled with no shortage of affection and adoration. As we always used to say, Steeler loved love and could full body wag with the best of them. 

While he is no longer physically at my side, the memories of Steeler’s loving spirit and loyal devotion have moved to a forever home in all of our hearts. And every time I see those birds flush high into the sky, I think of him—and know he’s still out there somewhere doing his job. 


  1. Put a bell or GPS on my collar so you know where I’m at at all times
  2. Bring a collapsible water bowl to keep me hydrated — all that flushing and retrieving will make a dog work up a thirst
  3. Always, always, always bring a field dog first aid kit for when I come across something sharp
  4. Speaking of sharp… Beware of porcupines! Oh, and skunks!! 
  5. Know when it’s time to hang up the paws and live the good retired life 🐾