Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘Pick of the Litter’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2018, Movies by - May 09, 2018
Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘Pick of the Litter’

As far as documentary subjects go, the topic of puppies is going to go a long way to making the story enjoyable. Pick of the Litter has an interesting tale o tell, and does it fairly well, but it is the five furry friends at the centre of this film that make a delight to watch.

We follow along a quintet of siblings born at Guide Dogs for the Blind organisation in California on their training to become qualified companions for the visually impaired. The film tracks from the moment of birth to their naming, from their early foster care to the return to the centre for more focused regimen. 

It’s relayed that about 40% of the dogs in the program don’t make it; it’s a rigorous test requiring not only innate skills and the ability to learn on the dogs part, but proper training and care by both foster parents and animal professionals. The film divides its time between these two; the foster parents have plenty of interesting things to say, and a certain perspective on what they are doing and how well they are doing it.

It’s almost a competition between them; some are on their first GDB trainee, while others have fostered numerous and see themselves as veterans. The requirements of such families seem intense, though in one care a high school teen is given supervision over a more energetic puppy. If and when training isn’t up to par, dogs are transferred. At times it’s comic, others it’s sad.

The filmmakers don’t need to do too much to make the story compelling – we easily become attached to the dogs, root for their success and grieve their failure. Everyone lives happily ever after, some just have civilian life ahead while others have a job to do.

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