Buddy explores the relationships between helper dogs and the people they help
Every so often comes a documentary that tells you nothing you didn’t already know, yet remains completely, delectably watchable. Two years ago it was Kedi , with the “revelation” that Istanbul is overstuffed with adorable feral cats. The newest is Buddy (even the names are cute!), a Dutch film that explores the relationships between helper dogs and the people they help.
Director Heddy Honigmann introduces half a dozen canines, and an equal number of humans with a variety of issues. Two are blind. Two are physically impaired. And two have mental issues: a boy with autism and a soldier with PTSD. The humans discuss their animals, and the dogs do their thing.
For the blind, this is pretty standard stuff, although spry octogenarian Edith van der Meulen relies on her pooch, Makker, to guide her while jogging through the woods. (In her youth she used to ride horses, her guide dog at the time running alongside.)
More fascinating is a dog named Kaiko who can fetch and carry pages from its owner’s printer (the dog really seems to like this task) and who not only knows how to get into the cupboards and fridge, but never abuses this skill for its own gain.
And then there’s Mister, companion to traumatized soldier Trevor Veira. When he’s outside with his wife, the dog literally watches his back; the similarity to how a fellow soldier would behave is eerie. When his wife leaves, the dog shifts position so it can keep one eye on Trevor and make sure he’s OK.
Throughout the movie, the bond of love between human and dog is constant, and beautiful to behold. “We can’t let anything happen to you,” Edith tells Makker. “That’s what I’m here for.” And much as I hate to anthropomorphize, I can’t help it; looking at Makker’s mug I could tell that in its own non-verbal doggy way it was thinking the very same thing.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019