Interview with Hound Group Breeder Lori Mills – Sidearm Kennel
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Lori Mills: I live in Grand Bay, Alabama. I have been in dogs all my life; over 56 years. I’m a third-generation dog person.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Lori Mills: My kennel name is Sidearm Kennel. We keep between 40 and 80 dogs, including puppies.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Lori Mills: Notable winners include GCHG CH CWSG CCH Sidearm The Jungle King Mufasa, aka “Mufasa” (2x Westminster Breed Winner), GCH Sidearm Bare Necessities, aka “Baloo,” GCH Sidearm Kajun Ketchup, aka “Tabasco,” GCHB CH Sidearm Return of The King, aka “Rerun” (2x Westminster Breed Winner), GCHG CH CCH Sidearm Despicable Me, aka “Minion” (3x Westminster Breed Winner), and GCH Sidearm Red Sonador.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Lori Mills: Influential sires and dams include Baloo, Xena, Sonador, Tabasco, and Mufasa.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Lori Mills: I have a variety of kennels, welded panels, fencing, and Preifert. Puppies are in whelping rooms outside at the kennel. Pups are handled from their first breath, raised by the dam until weaned. Food is first introduced at three weeks of age.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Lori Mills: I start looking at pups on Day One. We start making selections and evaluations at 2 weeks. Selections are made anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months. We pick pups from a natural stance and for their personality.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Lori Mills: We train in stages and socialize as much (and as safely) as possible. We start pups on drags for hunting at 6-8 weeks. We hunt our dogs; coonhunting is allowed year-round. In the warmer months, we have a motorized Walker and swimming alternatives to keep the Hounds in condition. It’s an honest breed, so bathing and trimming nails is all they need.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Lori Mills: I see a lot of newcomers to the breed showing them like a Doberman Pinscher and running with them like a German Shepherd Dog or a Sporting breed. That’s not how Coonhounds hunt; they trot at a good pace so that they can gather scent. They’re a hunting dog, not a racehorse.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Lori Mills: Our breed, like other Coonhounds, needs to be checked for Coonhound blindness. PRA, hips, and shoulders are all a “base.” We perform a panel of tests, but overall they are a very healthy breed with just regular, preventive maintenance needed. A good quality dog food (NOT grain-free) is essential, as is Vitamin C.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Lori Mills: I’m seeing a loss of bone, lighter eyes, and a higher earset. We need to stick to a “houndy” type with substance.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Lori Mills: They are great family dogs and are very diverse. We have them in apartments, on charter boats, farms, neighborhoods, and in semi trucks. They love the water and other animals, and they have good longevity into their teens, barring accidents and cancer or some unforeseen disease.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Lori Mills: No, I don’t. Several breeders are trying to reinvent the wheel and are disregarding the Breed Standard; losing type. I’ve seen several with more on the Sighthound silhouette rather than Scenthound. High ears, light eyes, and light-boned Hounds are concerns. You need to start over if you don’t have type.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Lori Mills: LIFE! You will never have a cable bill again if you own a Hound. It’s always entertaining!