PICK OF THE LITTER – Cute Dogs, Serious Careers

One of my oldest friends, Kirk, is blind. He has had two guide dogs I have known over the years. Tilla and Tilly. Both amazing intelligent dogs that were born into a somewhat pre-determined world. Labradors, Golden Retrievers and cross breeds of the first two have a high possibility of going through training in their youth with the possibility of becoming a Guide Dog (also known as service animals, assistance animals or colloquially as seeing eye dogs). It is a lifelong career if they are successful but the training is hard as they have to become the best of the best or in other words…. the PICK OF THE LITTER.

PICK OF THE LITTER is a documentary looking at the selection process of Guide Dogs. It is out now from Madman Films, runs for 81min and is rated G.

Pick of the Litter Puppy Yawn image
Puppy Yawn

BY JASON KING

PICK OF THE LITTER SYNOPSIS:

Pick of the Litter follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become Guide Dogs for the Blind, the ultimate canine career. Cameras follow these pups through a two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. Along the way, the dogs meet a community of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best of the best. The pick of the litter.

Pick of the Litter Puppy in Training image
Puppy in Training

IT’S ALL CUTE AND FUZZY BUT DESTINY AWAITS:

PICK OF THE LITTER should be one of those movies that schools take excursions to view. It’s out now so it could also be the perfect holiday movie for families with little ones. It has an endless amount of cute and you do become invested with these pups. PICK OF THE LITTER will also aid in being a good educational film for all that view it.

Patriot, Phil, Primrose, Poppet and Potomac are the cute puppy dawgs and three months from birth they’re billeted out to minders. Most of the minders are incredibly nervous. They take their part in the process very seriously and if a puppy gets a “career change” most of them feel abundant guilt for messing up their potential. But some careers aren’t for everyone and these dogs show as many differences in personality and behaviour as the ever increasingly insane human race.

To some extent PICK OF THE LITTER has the appeal of a dating show, or a cooking show, or any reality show really. Pup meets human, both must go through gruelling challenges and at the end there are winners and then less winners. Most of the pups who enter training fail, but fail isn’t the right term. As previously mentioned they get a “career change.” By flunking out they end up being placed with a forever family. Sometimes they are returned to the minder families who are grieving after handing their charge over to be expertly trained at the Guide Dog Centres. Expect some tears.

One of the dogs is excelling at everything but is seen as too excitable, she graduates as a breeder and not a service dog. It all has a happy ending wherever they land and the audience will be satisfied.

EDUCATION:

One thing members of the public MUST LEARN, when a guide dog is wearing their harness, they are NOT A DOG, they are a WORKING CARER. They cannot be patted or distracted, it is their job to keep their human on track and away from any danger. I learned with Kirk and Tilly, when the harness is off she became like every other dog and I could play with her, tell her my secrets, and sneak her food. Harness on – WORKING – STAY AWAY!

Pick of the Litter Puppy in Training image
Puppy in Training

THE FIVE P’S:

Patriot, Phil, Primrose, Poppet and Potomac – the five P’s of PICK OF THE LITTER. As for their acting, they were all my faves. Primrose shone but freaked out in the larger group scenes, Patriot has a biting fetish and was quite unruly, not really keeping to script. Poppet was the underdog (so much pun intention) and had to do a few scenes to get it right and Primrose was our star but it went to her head and she needs a social media manager now. Potomac was too distracted with bright shiny things so will now be a catwalk model and finally Phil. He was a little disobedient but we all love him anyway.

CHARITIES:

The training and care for guide dogs is monumental. These dogs are trained not only to be obedient and to do everything a handler tells them to but they must also know when to disobey if it is in the best interests of their human’s welfare. That is remarkable and highlights the intelligence of the breed. They all need support – if you would be interested in making a donation or sponsoring a guide dog – head on over to https://www.guidedogs.com.au/

Pick of the Litter Could you Resist That Face image
Could you Resist That Face

IN CONCLUSION:

PICK OF THE LITTER is an ideal family movie for these school holidays. Congratulations to Don Hardy Jr. and Dana Nachman for spending two years making this movie and following the Five P’s around. Guide Dogs are essential to people with a sight disability and the dogs are the heroes that are always there for them. The movie is as cute as it is entertaining and educational, I cannot recommend it enough.

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.