Colts offensive lineman Joe Haeg has always been a dog guy.
"I've always just loved dogs. It's always great to have that companion. The bond you build with a dog is awesome. They just become one of your really good friends."
He grew up with dogs.
"We had a yellow lab for most of my early childhood and around fifth or sixth grade, it passed away. And then we got another dog that was an English Springer Spaniel that we had until I was in college."
One day, he knew he'd have his own dog. And that day arrived in April.
"The puppy is Steve. He's a German Shepherd. He's a handful right now. He likes to talk a lot."
When it came to naming him, Haeg had a little help from one of his teammates.
"Scott Tolzien actually kind of recommended it as a joke. He was like, 'You should do something like Steve or George.' And then when I heard that, I said, 'Steve.' And a lot of the other guys were giving me crap about it. But now that they've met Steve, the name fits. He's kind of goofy, he kind of stumbles around sometimes. But he's a good dog."
With his busy football schedule, Haeg knew it would take a team to raise a puppy. So, he found a great doggy daycare to help him out.
"He spends the day there and I pick him up and he's pretty much exhausted, which is nice. He takes a nice little two or three hour nap in the afternoon, which is great to have a little alone time. And then once he gets up, he's all amped."
For Haeg, it wasn't just finding a dog. It was finding a companion – one that would fit his lifestyle. He says the German Shepherd is a breed he always respected – and it turned out to be the perfect fit.
"They're very loyal. They're very smart. And I also like that they're really big, so I can mess around with him a little bit," he says. "He loves to play. He's great to take out and go on walks and play around with his toys. I'm excited to see him grow."
Big, loyal, and smart are the characteristics that describe an ideal offensive lineman. They're also the characteristics Haeg's coaches and teammates use to describe him.
As it turns out, Joe Haeg wasn't just looking for the perfect companion. He was looking for the perfect teammate. And that's just what he found in Steve.
"On a daily basis, you wake up and he's there ready to go. He's got that good attitude about it. It's just something to look forward to when you head home – kind of get away from football and hang out with your dog and just do normal stuff."
You are who you surround yourself with.
And Joe Haeg is surrounded by loyal companions – on the field and off.