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PICK OF THE LITTER gets 7.5/10 A guiding heart

Directed by Don Hardy Jr., Dana Nachman
Featuring Phil, Patriot, Potomac, Primrose, Poppet


It may sound hard to dislike any film with dogs at the centre of it, though no matter how cute they are, such a film needs more than just cute doggies to sustain interest. That’s where Pick of the Litter succeeds, being able to engage a wide audience not only through the cute puppies as they grow into young dogs, but also seeing them as they learn and develop the skills necessary to be successful guide-dogs.

This documentary follows four dogs, born from a specific Labrador breeder, right from their moment of birth to them finding their footing and then going through the various stages that determine if they’ll be eligible for guide-dog work.

It’s an arduous process not just for the doggies, but for the guide-dog training staff and the volunteers who take up the dogs for their initial training, which is shown to be quite the arduous, yet loving task. Throughout these various stages of climbing up the guide-dog career ladder, some dogs are unfortunately let go from their training (politely referred to as ‘career changing’) while others manage to advance up in the ranks.

It’s incredible and certainly relatable to see how quickly the trainees connect with the dogs, which does lead to some heart-ache, but also heart-warming moments of joy for the dogs’ successes. Once we see the dogs who’ve made it to through the final stages, the lessons they need to learn are riveting – these dogs must be able to not only to guide the visually-impaired throughout their lives, but also make sure they disobey their commands if they do involve risks.

If you want to see some direct character development, plus some cute doggies, Pick of the Litter is the crowd-pleaser that is hard to dislike. It’s also an eye-opener to the world of guide-dogs and how much they offer to the sight-impaired, not just in acting as their eyes and alerting them to danger, but also to be a fuzzy face and a wet nose at their side. This documentary taps into the love of that kind of companion, and the undervalued kind of support, they can provide.


Pick of the Litter plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, December 24 & Wednesday, December 26 to Sunday, December 30, 8pm, and at ECU Joondalup Pines from Tuesday, January 1 to Sunday, January 6, 8pm.

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