Slamdance 2018: Pick of the Litter – Puppy Cuteness Overload

Pick of the Litter

Selected by the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival, Pick of the Litter contains an overload of puppy cuteness as the documentary offers a glimpse into the rigorous training of guide dogs for the blind.

Co directed by Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, Pick of the Litter is a touching film that makes you wish that you could place your hands through the screen.  A project that was birthed at Slamdance in 2015 following the premiere of Batkid Begins came home to Slamdance.  Does it get any better than that?  I’d be lying if I didn’t say how jealous I was of these two filmmakers having the opportunity to be around so many puppies.

There are 800 puppies born each year and go into training in order to become guide dogs for the blind. However, there are only 300 of them that make the cut.  The rest are career-changed, which is just a polite way of saying that they are cut from the program.  Some of those dogs, however, get the opportunity to go back to the families that raised them.

Rather than focus in on so many guide dogs across the country, filmmakers wisely opted to focus on five very cute puppies: Primrose, Poppet, Patriot, Potomac, and the sentimental favorite, Phil.  They get assigned to puppy raisers and these are those people/families who raise them up until the final ten weeks of the program.  Slowly but surely, the dogs get cut from the program and one is selected to become a guide dog.  Those of which advance to the final weeks have to undergo tests such as traffic.  No spoilers on this end, you’ll just have to wait and see.  The documentary offers an epilogue so viewers won’t be left hanging with the whole case of where are they now.

There’s no doubt in saying that it’s heartbreaking to watch those dogs become career-changed but on the other hand, they also get the opportunity to go back to their puppy raisers, who no doubt hurt to give them back, should those families decide to take them back.  At the same time, these are people who are very much aware of their job going into the program.  I love dogs but could never be a puppy raiser because I would just want to keep them for myself!

Here’s how important such dogs are and why a documentary such as Pick of the Litter is so important.  The film tells the story of the late Roselle, who on 9/11 guided Michael Hingson down 78 floors to safety.  If that dog isn’t considered to be a hero, I don’t know who is!

Pick of the Litter is a must-watch documentary about man’s best friend.

The Opening Night selection of the Slamdance Film Festival, Sundance Selects acquired the North American rights to Pick of the Litter.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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