Zach Miller, the owner and founder of Southern Loon Retrievers™ has always had a passion for dogs and working dogs in particular; however, never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that he would make a life of it. Zach served with honor as a Sniper Section Sergeant with the 10th Mountain Division in the snow filled plains of Ft. Drum, NY. Upon returning home from a combat tour in Iraq, Miller found himself battling the demons of his experiences with no end in sight. When all things had seemed hopeless for him, he found a spark of light in a small lab puppy named Banjo who proceeded to save his life more than once. Miller found relief from the dark hole of PTSD through training labs for hunting. In the fall of 2019, the company was founded in northeastern Pennsylvania and is currently headquartered in Southern Virginia.
COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT:
“Provide the highest quality training while establishing and maintaining lifelong customer relationships that become essential in how we conduct business and live.”
“…As we sat against a sandbag wall waiting for our transport to the drop point, I looked down at my men…I’ve never witnessed my men more mentally drained and numb. We had been through what no one could ever fathom… and then some. Here are these gods among men, my men. Every sinew within me wanted to tell them to head back and get some rest, I’ll take this one, but I knew I couldn’t…When all hope and moral had since been lost… out of the Iraq sun came a four legged creature…DOGS!”
– Excerpt from Zach’s War Journal
Why Southern Loon?
Fort Drum… The frozen tundra that I called “home for almost 5 years while serving in the Army in upstate New York. The Army certainly takes a toll on anyone during the duty week, for me, my escape was loading up my car and driving a few hours east to the great Adirondacks!
This beautiful region of New York became my escape from the disciplined world of the military if only for a few hours at a time. If anyone has ever had the opportunity to visit this area, they will find it hard to miss the ominous call of a “Common Loon”. Some call it scary while others, much like myself, find it calming. It’s truly a call you will never forget, nor hear anywhere else in the world, it is truly UNIQUE.
A Common Loon is known not only for it’s call but also for it’s agile and swift hunting ability while diving. Spending many years observing this animal, it’s known to spend little time wasted on waiting to retrieve it’s prey. It moves in, gets the kill and comes right back up, FAST!
I wanted these attributes and the place where they were held in my heart to represent the retrievers I sent out my doors. This, is why Southern Loon Retrievers came to fruition.