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Slamdance 2018 Review: “Pick of the Litter” (2018) ★★★★


Imagine for a second, you are at the job interview and there are around two hundred other candidates competing for that same position. During your interview, you answer some basic questions but the hardest part begins when you have to take a test. This might not sound very dramatic for many people, as even if you fail, you can always try to apply for another job. The characters of “Pick of the Litter” do not have a second chance, as they are sent out for a career change. You may wonder why, and I can explain it to you. Their job is tough and difficult, they are allowed no mistakes and cannot lose their concentration even for a moment – they are Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Produced and directed by Dana Nachman and Don Hardy Jr., “Pick of the Litter” follows five adorable puppies – Patriot, Phil, Potomac, Primrose, and Poppet. Their mission is to complete a Guide dog training, to pass five stages of the test, and only if they succeed, they will be assigned a mission to guide a blind person. If they fail their final test, there is no other path for them but to be sent to an early retirement, nicely called as a “career change”.

At the beginning of the film, all the five puppies are just born and they set on a quest to becoming guide dogs, even if they are too young to understand it. The viewer gets a chance to follow the whole process. We see the puppies sent to their new home where they learn basic social skills, adapt to the new environment, become friendly and cooperative. After that, they will join the school to begin their training. In the meantime, through the interviews with professionals, we learn about the important task these dogs are to fulfill. Often, they have to pull their owners back to save them from being hit by a car, or they need to learn to disobey if they know that in that given situation their blind partner might get hurt if they obeying their command.

In conclusion, “Pick of the Litter” is a film with dogs starring in the main roles. Their future depends on how they complete their training. Throughout the movie, you may find yourself continuously “awing” and nobody can blame you for that. This film is awfully cute. The last fifteen minutes of the film will triple your heartbeat, as you watch the dogs take their final test, and this makes one realize how important is the presence of these dogs in our life. Their loving and caring nature, accountability and attention are everything that our society is missing nowadays. The presence of these guide dog guides in the lives of people with special needs is crucial, and because of that, we can see that not every dog can make the final cut. When they do, they bring endless joy to their owners by opening new horizons that before they were unable to explore.

 

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