Linda Cook review: ‘Pick of the Litter’ is doggone cute

Local News

This is just so, well, doggone cute.

“Pick of the Litter” is a documentary for all ages that’s as heartwarming as it is educational.

The stars are Labrador puppies Poppy, Phil, Primrose, Potomac and Patriot, all of whom being a program that will train them to be guide dogs for people who are blind.

The process takes not quite two years. During it, volunteers do their best to teach the pups exactly what they should do.

Often, because of a puppy’s personality, the dog is “career-changed” and is not accepted into the program. It’s a lot like watching a sports movie, because we continue to ask whether each pup will achieve victory as a guide dog.

Wherever there’s competition, there’s tension. From the shudder-inducing suspense of a horror film, the tension here is puppy-driven. Will the dog become overexuberant when it sees another canine? Will it be able to figure out how to maneuver in traffic?

The movie, filmed over two years, always reminds us that, even though every pup won’t become a service dog for the blind, all the pups find homes – some with individuals and some with a breeding program.  

I loved seeing the interactions between the humans the canines, and wish I could have learned more about the people who end up with the dogs. (Only two of the dogs, incidentally, end up as guide dogs.) I did enjoy watching the foster families who help train the dogs.

The directors are Don Hardy and Dana Nachman, who also helmed the enjoyable “Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World” documentary.

Several of the moments got to me – admittedly, I’m among the millions who has a soft spot for animals of all kinds. Every dog lover of any age will appreciate this film.

3 stars

Rated: PG, and suitable for nearly all audiences.

Running time: 81 minutes.

Streaming on Netflix.

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