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Pick of the Litter (2018)Pick of the Litter (2018)

If you are a dog lover, or if you need a reliable choice for a family film night, this movie is a sure bet. The eighty-minute documentary follows a single litter of five Labrador Retriever puppies for about two years — from their whelping mother and birth when they look like rats, through the entire evaluation and training process of becoming a guide dog for the blind. The public "graduation" ceremony when the dogs are formally transferred to their new blind owners is something to behold. And not to say too much, but not all dogs reach this high bar of performance; some will be "career-changed." After birth, the dogs are given to "puppy raiser" families for socialization and basic training. This is not a casual commitment, but a ton of time consuming work, and not all puppy raisers are up to their task: one dog had to be removed from its initial family and given to "fixer" puppy raisers with more experience. You can well imagine what it feels like to return the puppy to the Guide Dog School after two years of all that love, work, and bonding. It's truly remarkable and inspiring to watch how these dogs learn, work, and perform, like ignoring a treat that is waved in front of their nose because they must always be on task for their owner, or actually disobeying a command they have been given because they see or sense a greater danger. Of course, these dogs are adorable, whether they pass or fail; but they are also amazing in what they do to lead a blind person through life. Bring some kleenex for tears that are both happy and sad. I watched this movie on Amazon Streaming.

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