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A Movie Recommendation for Dog Lovers

Author: Greg Raub | Date: February 18, 2014

I stumbled upon a movie recently that turned out to be one of the better dog movies I’ve seen in a while. I had never heard of it before. It’s a Japanese film called Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog.

I almost always find faults with dog movies because I can’t help but focus on training techniques I don’t quite agree with, behaviors that just seem to outlandish, or gross examples of anthropomorphism (attributing human characteristics to animals). And early on, I did have some issues with Quill.

There were schmaltzy scenes like one where Quill is dreaming about his first toy. Some of the training seemed really over-simplified. It looked like you could just tell a dog “this is a curb, you need to stop at a curb” and he would get it right away. But I stuck with the movie through these early scenes and ultimately found it be both entertaining and educational.

It is the story of a dog, but it is also the story of the breeder, the family that fostered him for a year, the trainer, and the blind father (and his family) where Quill eventually went to live (and work). The handler – the blind father – is initially very reluctant to “be pulled around by a mutt.” But when Quill helps him buy a beer, he discovers the freedom that Quill can provide.

Along with learning a little about the process for training guide dogs, I also picked up some interesting facts I hadn’t been aware of before. For example:

  • The earliest known use of dogs as guide dogs is found on frescoes in the ruins of Pompeii.
  • In Japan, English words are used for cues in dog training – to avoid confusing a dog if he heard the cues in everyday conversation.
  • Beer cans are labeled in Braille in Japan.

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog was produced in Japan in 2004 but not released in the United States until 2012. It is in Japanese with English subtitles, and is based on a true story. I give it three paws. You can check out the Quill trailer here. I found the movie on Amazon Instant Video. If you decide to watch it, let me know what you think. Or if you have a favorite dog movie, share that, too.

 


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