The show “Pick of the Litter” follows six guide dogs in training, Tartan, Tulane, Pacino, Paco, Raffi, and Amara as they learn how to be a safe future guide dog. Each dog begins by living for a year in a volunteer puppy raiser’s home. These people volunteer to raise each puppy for a year, giving them love and support, before they begin their journey of training to be a guide dog.
The volunteers talk about how it’s different to raise guide dogs as opposed to pets. Raisers have to be consistent in teaching basic commands, so they can properly help their people in the future. Puppies need to learn how to stay calm and not jump on people, while still being able to be playful. The raisers grow strong connections to the puppies, but all hope they succeed at their final evaluations.
With over 800 dogs being born at Guide Dogs for the Blind every year, only 300 make it through the training to be successful guide dogs. After being raised for a year with volunteer families, they have final evaluations which decide if they’ll move on to formal training, or undergo a career change, which is when they’re dropped from the program.
This program shows how raising these guide dogs is beneficial to the puppy raiser families. Raising these dogs help these families to be emotionally healthier, and the dogs act as an emotional support animal for some. The puppies aren’t demanding, like people can be, they just want your affection.
The show also teaches viewers about the many requirements of being a guide dog. With so many puppies born into the program, only a few are actually selected to continue in their training. Puppies can be career changed for many small reasons, including being distracted easily, having any health conditions, or even going to the bathroom without warning the owner first. Raisers are instructed on all the requirements of guide dogs, so they know all the things that they need to teach the puppies before their evaluations.
I really enjoyed watching this show. It was interesting to get to learn about the many challenges and requirements of raising a guide dog, and to learn about how these puppies help the raiser families emotionally. Families know that even though it’ll be hard to let go of the dogs, their actions of raising them are going to lead the dogs to be able to do great things for people who need them.