Law with two guide dogs that appeared in movie Little Q Photo: Courtesy of Law Wing Cheong

Fifteen years after the publication of popular Japanese novel The Life of Quill, The Seeing-Eye Dog, a Chinese movie adaptation of the book, Little Q (2019), will appear in theaters on Friday. 

Starring Simon Yam, Gigi Leung and Law Chung Him, Little Q tells a similar story of the life of a guide dog, but with new characters and plot elements added, according to Director Law Wing Cheong.

“In Japanese cities, foster families are not important [for guide dogs], but the situation is different in Hong Kong, because land in Hong Kong is scarce,” Law explained why a foster family appears in the Chinese version. “A guide dog has to spend its first year in a foster family, who will train it to become socialized… After that, it’s given back to the trainers for real guide dog training but still living in the foster family.”

A dog owner himself, Law joined the project about four years ago, when he discovered people’s awareness of guide dogs was growing.

In fact, when the Japanese movie adaptation Quill (2004) was shown in the Chinese mainland in 2005, it only saw box office revenues of 6 million yuan ($850,000), despite achieving 8.4/10 on Chinese movie critic website Douban. 

Now, three days ahead of the premier of Little Q, it has already grossed 13 million yuan of pre-sale box office as of Tuesday noon, and has been given the highest screen share on September 20 among all movies that open that day, according to box office tracker Maoyan. 

Law said he had met both negative and positive reactions from society during the film’s production. 

When Liu was traveling on a train with Lian Qin, the first guide dog owner in China, some passengers objected. “They said that they did not pay to sit beside a dog. In the end, Lian had to sit with the train police,” Law told the Global Times. But there are good aspects as well. “When we took the plane with the guide dog, the air stewardess immediately gave the dog the largest space to rest. When we stayed at a hotel, the staff came to us and talked to Ms Lian, because they wanted to know more about guide dogs so that they can provide better services for visually impaired customers in the future.”

According to an interview with guide dog center founder Guan Li from Donggua video, a video team run by Zhengzhou Media Group, as of May 2019, there are only about 200 guide dogs in China, while the number of people with visual impairment is over 17 million. 

Law pointed out that currently, the problem is that ordinary people know little about guide dogs. “All they see is a visually impaired person walking with a dog. People don’t know how to protect it, or how it becomes the eyes of a visually impaired person, how it stops at every corner and lets its master know about the surroundings,” Law said. “I hope that after seeing this movie, people will know more about it and be more open to them, whether on buses or trains. They won’t affect anyone, as long as you don’t disturb them.”