Australian Council on Children and the Media

Pick of the Litter

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Short takes

Suitable for all ages, however may not hold interest for very young children.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pick of the Litter
  • a review of Pick of the Litter completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 January 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Ok for this age group, but may lack interest for some children.
Children aged 5–13 OK for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Pick of the Litter
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: General
Length 80 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Pick of the Litter is a documentary film about a litter of puppies who are bred specifically to be trained as guide dogs for the blind. It follows along from the moment the pups are born, through their intensive training, to the moment when they either graduate as guide dogs or are ‘career changed’ to become other types of companion animals or pets. The documentary shows us how much work goes into the training of these remarkable dogs and how it takes a dedicated team of both professionals and passionate volunteers to make the program possible. Finally, we are shown just how important and valuable a guide dog can be in the life of someone who is visually impaired.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Guide dogs; disability; vision impairment; dog training and behaviour; animal breeding.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is no violence in this movie.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There is nothing to scare young children in this film, however there are some scenes in this movie that could disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Several times a guide dog puppy is moved from one foster home to another, and some of the foster parents find it very sad to give up the puppy which they have become attached to. Some children may be sensitive to the emotions in these scenes.
  • There is a graphic scene of a vet aiding a Labrador as she gives birth to her puppies. The vet is helping to guide the puppies out. The dog is calm.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Some children may be sensitive to seeing puppies ‘knocked out’ of the competition and feel sorry or upset that some don’t make it to become guide dogs.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing of concern.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing of concern.

Product placement

  • Nothing of concern.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There are conversations about dog breeding and dog anatomy which may raise questions for younger children about animal reproduction.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Nothing of concern.

Use of substances

  • Nothing of concern.

Coarse language

There is one incidence of coarse language in this movie:

  • “Jerk-wad”

In a nutshell

Pick of the Litter is a heart-warming and gentle documentary that should appeal to most ages. Although there is very little to scare or disturb children, it may not engage all younger viewers, and parents may need to explain what is happening throughout.  Parents should be aware that despite the G rating, there is one incidence of coarse language in this film.

The main messages from this movie are that guide dogs make a significant difference to the lives of those with impaired vision and that it takes a lot of time and effort to train them.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Kindness and compassion towards animals.
  • Giving up something you love so that someone else can benefit.
  • Volunteering your time towards a good cause.
  • The strong relationship between humans and dogs.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Although it is sad when a puppy can’t become a guide dog, it just means that perhaps their nature or temperament is better suited to another type of ‘career’. Could this be the same with humans?
  • The difficulty of saying goodbye to animals that you love.

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