July 2, 2019  (Web Review)

Pick of the Litter

(2018) 81 min. DVD: $19.98. MPI Media Group (avail. from most distributors). SDH captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Filmmakers Dana Nachman and Don Hardy’s “service dogumentary” offers a poignant glimpse into the wiggly-tailed world of five puppies who are candidates for the California-based Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) organization. Viewers watch as the litter of Patriot, Primrose, Potomac, Poppet, and Phil are born onscreen, after which the five little ones are separated to go with volunteer puppy raisers who teach them the basics, followed by guide-work training if they are lucky enough to make it—as opposed to being “career changed” if things aren’t working out. The stories of first-time trainers and companions are coupled with those of seasoned veterans as tough and impersonal decisions have to be made based on stringent evaluation and perfected skills. Including interviews with GDB president and CEO Christine Benninger and others, this slice-of-life film chronicling the crème de la crème of canine companions is both inspirational and moving (as in have the Kleenex ready). Highly recommended. Aud: P. (J. Williams-Wood)