A new canine-centered documentary is now on Netflix, and it’s a must-watch for dog lovers. “Pick of the Litter” follows the journey of five Labrador puppies in their quest to become guide dogs for people who are blind and visually impaired. The pups are trained through Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), which receives more than 1,000 applications for its guide dog program a year.
Only a fraction of the dogs ultimately become guide dogs at the end of the grueling training period, but don’t worry — the remaining pooches go on to be adopted into forever homes. GBD says it has graduated 14,000 teams since it started in 1942 and today, there are 2,200 active guide dog teams around North America.
The puppies featured in the film are dubbed the “P” litter and go by the names Patriot, Potomac, Primrose, Poppet and Phil. All five are adorable, and they each have different personality traits — some of which are better suited to becoming guide dogs than others.
Check out the official trailer in the clip posted to YouTube by IFC Films:
“You never know which make it all the way to guide,” says a voiceover narration. “It could be one, it can be none.”
The suspense is already killing us! The film, which is directed by Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, premiered in January 2018 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and has gone on to earn critical acclaim and win several awards. It was in theaters about a year ago.
“You walk down the street and you see people who are visually impaired walking with these dogs, and you don’t realize just how much control the dog has in that situation,” Hardy told NBC’s “Today.” “When you grab that harness and feel the dog instinctively take control, it’s terrifying.”
You’re going to want to break out the tissues for this one! Guide Dogs for the Blind volunteer Melanie Harris says the puppy-raising journey is emotional and requires a lot of focus; it includes the teaching of “intelligent disobedience,” a critical skill in which dogs know when to go against handler instructions in order to keep them safe.
“I was lucky enough to train Patriot, one of the dogs in the film, which was a delight. I call it my Hollywood moment,” she says in HuffPost. “I hope people who watch the movie will fall in love with these wonderful, life-changing creatures ― the way I’ve been doing every day for the last 22 years.”
The documentary’s Instagram page at @pickofthelitterdoc has some cute puppy pictures that’ll make you go “Awww!”:
You can also see it in the theater in certain cities, as noted in the film’s Instagram post below:
Will you be checking this out tonight?