Pick Of The Litter (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
The premise: Five puppies train to become service dogs for the blind. How can you not watch this?!?!
Stole the hearts of festival attendees all year long, Pick of the Litter is just wonderful and a great diversion from the chaos in the world right now.
You literally root for the puppies to make it and also learn a great deal about the connection between animal and human, bringing to life a partnership we really seldom see shown to us.
You have some pointless problem with watching documentaries.
You have a cold, dead heart that stops beating when kindness and warmth is shown to you.
Seriously, it’s 80 minutes long. No one dies. No one gets hurt. Watch this already and feel good for a minute.
You must pump blood through a blackened, cold, dead heart to not swoon over Pick of the Litter, a wonderful, charming, and happy-tears inducing look at five Labrador puppies entering guide dog training.
Under the umbrella of the non-profit Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) organization, directors Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, Jr. settle into the lives of girl pups Potomac, Primrose, and Poppet, and boy pups Patriot and Phil, who begin the two-year journey from birth to potential placement with a sight-challenged owner.
The film is a fascinating look at not just the dogs, but also the "puppy raisers", the challenges which come from matching dog and human trainer, and the strict guidelines that all must adhere to, including the struggles of those more inexperienced trainers.
The process is rigorous, and when re-homing training dogs becomes a reality, the process is also emotionless for GDB representatives. This is necessary, as the dogs are attempting to serve a bigger purpose and become a successful graduate of the guide dogs program.
Largely this is a light and breezy watch, irresistible if you are a dog lover and fascinating if you have ever wondered how the training of service dogs works from beginning to end.
However it also illuminates a connection between animal and human that few films take the time to explore. At just 80 minutes, the film could cover more ground and depth, but what Nachman and Hardy, Jr. capture so expertly well is how co-dependent and loving the connection becomes in this partnerships.
The dogs bond to their humans and vice versa, and as we soon come to realize, both become lost without the other in their life.
Pick of the Litter is a wonderful film, ensnaring you in a world that you don't want to escape from. These puppers steal your heart, we root for their success, and are reminded that good things happen out there in a world increasingly viewed as polarizing and chaotic.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Patriot, Phil, Poppet, Potomac, Primrose.
Director: Don Hardy, Jr., Dana Nachman
Written by: Dana Nachman
Release Date: August 31, 2018 (VOD); September 14, 2018 (Theaters)