A curly haired, cream colored dog trots around the kitchen happily. From each drawer and door handle in the kitchen dangles a short rope. At his owner’s command, the dog takes the string of the refrigerator door in his mouth, expertly pulling it open. The woman points to a packet of creamer, and the dog gingerly takes it in his mouth and brings it to her, then stares at the woman expectantly for his next task. The woman smiles at the dog in appreciation, pouring the cream into her drink. “Now we have coffee!”
This cream-retrieving dog and his owner are just one of the dog-human pairs featured in Buddy. The 2018 documentary film follows the stories of six talented service dogs and the humans they aid, giving us a peek into the daily lives, joys, and struggles of all six teams.
A Bond of Love Built on Assistance
For the owners of the six service dogs, dogs are not only beloved pets and loyal friends, but also invaluable life assistants. One woman, who is confined to a wheelchair and nearly blind in one eye, notes that her dog always watches her blind side. “He makes up for what I don’t have,” she says, “so he’s like an extra limb to me”. Another woman, who is also in a wheelchair and has a limited range of motion, strokes her dog lovingly as she tells the camera, “He’s my freedom”. Having a service dog means that she is able to live on her own despite her physical disabilities, maintaining the independence that she would likely not have without the help of her dog.
The sentiment is echoed by the owners of the other service dogs. A blind man and a blind woman are able to travel and take long walks outside with the guidance of their dogs. A veteran’s dog helps him to deal with the emotional and physical trauma of a war, waking him up from nightmares and attentively guarding his back when they are outside the house. A young autistic boy does everything with his dog, from playing hide-and-seek to listening to music to cuddling on the couch; the dog is his unwavering best friend and a calming presence. The six service dogs are always eager to help and love their humans, and in return, their people love them.
This OVID.tv Film Tells Also of Loss
Whether they are on their first service dog or their fifth, the dog owners in Buddy each realize that they will inevitably suffer a loss, for their dogs have far shorter lifespans than they do. Buddy does not shy away from acknowledging this difficult fact. A blind, 86-year-old woman, who got her first guide dog at age 21, explains the circumstances of her first dog’s death. As she speaks, her blue eyes well up with tears. “Sorry,” she apologizes. “It’s my age. I’ll cry over anything these days…” Another man loses his guide dog suddenly to cancer during the course of the filming. “When I think of her, I can still feel her next to me on the couch,” he says sadly. Even the young boy, snuggled up with his dog in bed, talks with his dog about death. “I won’t die for a long time, but I’ll miss you too, when I die,” he says as he strokes her fuzzy tail. “And when we die…we’ll be right next to each other in the hereafter.”
A heartwarming film that doesn’t shy away from hard topics, Buddy shows us relationships between humans and dogs at their best. This reviewer appreciated the film’s ability to both put a smile upon the viewer’s face and deal with sensitive topics such as disability and loss. With its touching portrayal of service dogs and their owners, Buddy will appeal to nearly any viewer, especially to animal lovers or those who are excited to learn more about the world of service dogs.
Director: Heddy Honigmann
Erna Aarsen and Kaiko
Annebel Stift and Kay
Trevor Veira and Mister
Zeb Smits and Utah
Edith van der Meulen and Makker
Hans Dekker and Missy
For more information or to view this film, visit the OVID.tv webpage for BUDDY.
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Images courtesy of OVID.tv.
About the Author: Adriana Moore
Adriana Moore is an aspiring editor who recently graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy. During college, she worked as a copyeditor for her school’s newspaper. A lover of music, she has sung in choirs throughout her life, most recently Women’s Chorale during college. In her free time, Adriana enjoys reading books, taking her dog on walks, and introducing her youngest sister to the world of Marvel movies.