Pick of the Litter
Labs and their trainers
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… if you love canines and just the thought of seeing puppies brings a big smile to your face then Pick of the Litter is going to snare you into its trap from minute one.
800 dogs are born every year at Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of the leading guide dog schools in America. Of those only 300 will actually make it as a guide dog. Others will be ‘career changed’, meaning they can become house pets, breeders or support dogs for those with other additional needs. Pick of the Litter, a documentary from filmmakers Dana Nachman (Batkid Begins) and Don Hardy Jnr (Love Hate Love), follows five good doggos for the first 18 months of their lives as they’re trained to help the blind.
As well as the new pups, we’re introduced to their trainers; volunteers who can only keep the dogs for a short period of time and must adhere to an arm’s length list of rules. It’s surprising how many trainers one pup can go through, with the dog school chopping and changing regularly in order to find the optimum trainer to get their furry padawans to the finishing line. However, when you’re being called upon to train to obey your every command, whilst simultaneously encouraging it to ignore you in order to save your life – such as if you’re about to walk into traffic, for example – it’s easy to understand why trainers, as well as dogs, don’t always make the grade.
Importantly, Nachman and Hardy never make fools of their failing human subjects, choosing to highlight instead their genuine desire to raise the dogs to the best of their ability.
Admittedly, there is probably something that could be said about the couple that take their dog wine-tasting when all the training becomes too much for them but let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, eh.
The bottom line is, if you love canines and just the thought of seeing puppies brings a big smile to your face then Pick of the Litter is going to snare you into its trap from minute one. More hardened documentary aficionados are likely going to be left wanting a whole lot more. That said, if you go into something like Pick of the Litter expecting the equivalent of Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss, then that’s on you.
This documentary is light, it’s frothy and let’s be honest, there’s always a time and place for something like this; prepare to say ‘aww’ a lot.