Pick of the Litter

Pick of the Litter

Dana Nachman (2018)

80min
PG Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Having chronicled the incredible story of a five-year-old "superhero" who survives cancer in Batkid Begins, director Dana Nachman sets her sights on a more everyday heroism in this clear-eyed, heartfelt documentary about training guide dogs. The film follows five adorable puppies - goofy Patriot, calm Phil, lunging Potomac, hard-working Primrose, confident Poppet - from their mewling birth at the Californian campus of American non-profit Guide Dogs for the Blind to graduation as seeing-eye labradors. Though their selfless job choice is made for them by humans, only 300 of the 800 pups bred by GDB each year pass the 20-month training; the majority are "career changed"- that is, released into "civilian life" as one devoted trainer puts it. No spoilers, but not all five dogs featured actually graduate. It's also a bittersweet honour to be a volunteer "puppy raiser" for the first 16 months before giving them up, and tearful separations and footage of pups behind bars pepper the otherwise cute journey. You may tire of the phrases "so cute", "good boy" and "rock star", but you will learn about "tactile grounding" and "impulse control immaturity". One blind hiker says his dog will "open up the world for me"; a veteran with PTSD states that his gorgeous lab "saved me from myself", but the conscription tale does sometimes wag the canine volunteer.

Cast & Crew

Director Dana Nachman
Director Don Hardy Jr

Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: SignatureGuidance: Some swearingReleased on: 17 May 2019