October 1, 2018  (Web Review)

Old Dog

(2018) 66 min. DVD: $59.95 ($250 w/PPR from edu.passionriver.com). Passion River (avail. from most distributors).

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

A sweet documentary that will definitely appeal to dog lovers, filmmaker Sally Rowe’s Old Dog centers on New Zealand farmer and dog trainer Paul Sorensen, whose mission is to help working dogs get all the job satisfaction, joy, and love they can from their lives herding sheep (or other tasks). To say that Sorensen has a special rapport with dogs is a major understatement: he somehow sees eye-to-eye with his canine charges and earns total loyalty while they in turn bask in his easygoing benevolence. Rowe takes viewers back through earlier decades when Sorensen (who as a younger man resembled Hugh Jackman) won multiple dog-handling competitions, an achievement he shrugs off in his autumnal years. Sorensen imparts lessons on the handling of herding dogs to fellow farmers; he works for free—doing it “for the dogs,” his wife says. Sorenson and his spouse are a delightful couple, and the sight of working dogs running through endlessly green, gentle hills to round up sheep and please their masters is wonderfully uplifting. Recommended. Aud: P. (T. Keogh)