pick of the litter

DIRECTOR: Dana Nachman and don hardy jr.
documentary

 

REVIEWER: emily carter

★★★★

Pick of the Litter follows five spirited puppies from the moment they're born through their quest to become guide dogs for the blind.

The rocky road to guide-dogdom isn't some sweet story for puppy lovers - as I quickly learnt from Pick of the Litter. While I can't deny the wrinkly puppies and fuzzy dogs were downright adorable, their career path looked harder than most. Condense a complete education and re-education into two years and you've got the admirable pups of Pick of the Litter.

 

This doco follows the "P" litter from birth until d-day at the national (US) Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) program. You may understand that not all pups have what it takes to become a guide dog, but you may not quite know the fine line between a yes and a no. It's one entirely unexpected emotional rollercoaster.

 

There's tears, letdowns and roaring success all wrapped up in six gorgeous storylines. Hats off to the editors who seamlessly weave together the stories of each pup and owner without an ounce of confusion. But an even bigger round of applause for the level of balance. There are no good guys and bad guys as the film shows where both the owners, pups and even the Guide Dogs for the Blind soar and fall short.

 

Will they pass the tests and become guide dogs, breeders or "career changers"? Add in the pressure of those who are visually impaired and desperately need their help - it's a combination with the highest of stakes. 

 

I watched this film with a friend whose family have raised guide dogs for a large portion of her life, and if her teary moments tell me anything, this story is very real for a lot of people. It would have been even more insightful if we'd been able to delve a little deeper into what exactly it takes to be a caregiver during that pivotal 18 months of a puppy's life. What a massive task these people take on, and what a toll it must take when a pup doesn't make the grade.

 

You may not have picked it, but Pick of the Litter is the cute and cut-throat doco you never knew you needed. A little more of the human side of the story and it would have been entirely unforgettable. Do yourself a favour and know the hard-knock journey for guide dogs with this touching film.

★★★★★

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