BUDDY is acclaimed filmmaker Heddy Honigmann‘s immensely appealing, emotionally poignant Dutch doc about man’s best friend. More than just another lovely doc for dog lovers, it delivers sharp insights into that magical, unique human/canine bond by focusing on six guide dogs that perform a range of services for their physically or mentally challenged guardians. These latter will also win fans.      

While both unquestioning love and unwavering loyalty emanate from both sides, the film underscores the powerful, trusting ties that bind, even as the tough canine tasks on view — maneuvering drawers, computer paper, syringes, clothing, bedding, etc. — are well beyond “fetch”! Among the humans so royally served and deeply appreciative are a PTSD-afflicted war veteran, a severely autistic child, an elderly woman in need, the handicapped. As the doc emphasizes the dogs’ attentive vigilance, unwavering focus, and will to please, it also provides an important message about helping others and living in the here and now.

Far from a weeper, this unexpectedly uplifting film delights as it restores faith in human nature and momentarily obliterates thoughts of a White House without pets of the human kind.

A clarifying celebration of a partnership like no other and the oft-forgotten, wonderful human and animal qualities of decency, patience and generosity that go into what makes the partnership work.

A gentle, beautifully-paced film that often unfolds in soothing rustic locations beyond city noise and even a single bark.

A genuinely fresh take on “dog films” that, thanks to both the doc’s dutiful furry stars and their grateful human co-stars, amounts to solid entertainment for all ages and screens.

The doc might entice more potential adopters to animal shelters and more tourists to the Netherlands, maybe the good dog/good people Shangri-la we all need.