We Speak With The Incredible Dr. Pol, A Veterinarian Who Puts The Real Into Reality TV
All images Courtesy | National Geographic Channels
The Incredible Dr. Pol, America’s Favorite Veterinarian puts the real into reality TV by Layla Morgan Wilde.
Since 2011, the wildly popular show on Nat Geo WILD, The Incredible Dr. Pol reaches a new milestone and the season finale is tonight. The intrepid larger-than life veterinarian sees animal patients big and small from the barnyard, domestic pets to exotic creatures in rural Michigan. Dr. Pol kindly took the time to speak with me yesterday.
If you’re a fan of The Incredible Dr. Pol or have never seen the show (you’re in for a treat), tune in tonight for a special bonus compilation celebrating their 100th episode, tonight at 8 pm ET on Nat Geo WILD before the finale of season 10 at 9 pm. Season 10 debuted on Jan.7, 2017, but if you missed any episodes, you can catch up. Check out the clips at Nat Geo Wild
Since the show first aired, I’ve watched most of the episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol which trails the day-to day life of a rural vet in the middle of Michigan treating farms animals and a to z of pets. The riveting “all in the family” show is anti-glitz and glamour. It stars Dr. Jan Pol, who at 74 has more energy than a pack of mules, his brilliant, multi-tasking wife Diane who runs the clinic office, their son Charles is also a co-executive producer and spearheaded the show idea into reality. He’s a comedic foil and willing butt of slapstick jokes but nobody’s fool. Rounding out the cast is veterinarian Dr. Brenda, the Wonder Woman hero of animals big and small, veterinarian Dr. Emily is the youngest team member but fine-tuning her skills from the best. Together they form a mesmerizing, no-nonsense team wowing viewers from 2 to 102.
Is Dr. Pol for real?
Yes. What you see is what you get both on TV and in an interview. It’s refreshing to learn he’s as down to earth as ever. Nothing has changed despite fame or fortune. He transmits the same positive energy, a passion for his work, no BS attitude and is old school polite. A world apart from many of the “celebrity pet experts” we see in the media today. Press junkets like the one promoting the new season of The Incredible Dr. Pol are tightly scheduled. I had barely 15 minutes but we’re both fast talkers and talked up a storm. Afterwards the assistant calls me back to say Dr. Pol wanted to continue our conversation and a few minutes were were back on the phone for another 20 minutes. He didn’t need to do that. We continued a heart-to-heart about cats and the need for spay/neuter. A timely topic since kitten season is here.
Dr. Pol is a cat man!
It’s clear from seeing the show, that Dr. Pol is a dog lover. He has two Great Danes but less obvious is his passion for cats. Both he and his wife Diane (who are celebrating their 50th anniversary next year) have always had cats. Whenever there is an issue with a cat in the clinic, the staff will call on their cat whisperer, Dr. Pol to help take a cat out of the cage. He lets the cat smell him, connect with intention that he’s there to help and gently lifts the cat out without scruffing. When you’ve been handling animals of every stripe for as long as he has, it’s a combo of skill, experience and intuition.
Dr. Pol is often seen as a rough and gruff old school vet pulling out birthing calves with his bare hands but it’s good to know he has a softer side. A pussy cat if you will. As a life-long lover of Siamese cats, I was thrilled to hear about Dr. Pol’s cats.
We see more dogs than cats on the show because his clinic reflects the stats across the U.S. Dogs visit the vet about twice as often than cats. Not because cats are healthier but because they are masters at hiding their symptoms and are more resistant to travel. Dr. Pol’s dogs have often been filmed but not his cats since they hide when the camera crew arrives. Lovers of the Siamese breed, the Pols are onto their third Siamese, Holly, a seal point who enjoys grooming Dr. Pol’s head. They also have a Bengal named Casey, but the story of their office cat Tater illustrates the heart of a cat man.
Someone brought in a black cat with a mangled leg from a raccoon trap. He was in rough shape but Dr. Pol amputated the leg and Tater aka Couch Potato recovered. The odds of anyone wanting to adopt a black, three-legged cat where shelters are over-flowing were slim so Tater became the office cat #2.
Courtesy | National Geographic Channels, Michael Stankevich
Viewers are familiar with Athena, the big black Great Dane Charles adopted in 2015, but he also has a cat. I don’t have photo but this Charles with a farmer’s barn cat. Yup, a cat man. Like father like son.
Dr. Pols’s Biggest Beef
Dr. Pol says, “In some ways cats are better pets than dogs especially in the city. They can be left alone all day to sleep but when you get home, their unconditional attention, the stress relief from running your fingers through their fur can keep many people sane. But, they must be neutered! All feral cats were at one point domesticated but allowed to breed. This is my biggest beef. Cats breeding because many people can’t afford to spay/neuter. The Michigan Humane Society has a low-cost program where supervised vet students do spay/neuter to gain experience.” The biggest takeaway from Dr. Pol is: Spay/neuter. If you adopt a pet, it’s your responsibility to spay/neuter. I’ll add: feral cats deserve the same consideration. Simply put: spay/neuter saves lives and suffering.
We discussed options for ways of getting the spay/neuter message out there and I look forward to speaking with Dr. Pol again. And I’m really looking forward to the show tonight.
Dr. Pol Goes Green!
The biggest change since the show launched five years ago is the expansion of the clinic (with 4 vets on duty) their home and auxiliary buildings like the new, soon to be competed solar powered barn studio for the Dr. Pol podcasts Look for a new episode soon or check out the archives. Dr. Pol is not a believer in wind tunnels. As a native of The Netherlands, the original home of windmills, he feels wind energy is not as efficient as solar. Solar is his way to go green.
The production and film crew has expanded to 25 as the show’s success has grown, production is year round with only two to three weeks off between filming. Most of the crew have rented apartments in the nearby town and are considered extended family.
It takes 200 hours of filming for every episode. Nothing is scripted and the camera follows Dr. Pol and team live. When an emergency farm call comes in the crew chase Dr. Pol is his trusty Jeep and no one knows w how the day will unfold.
You’d think after 100 episodes the show might get old but The Incredible Dr. Pol is as fresh and incredible as ever. The only thing millions of cat lovers and I might want to see, are more cats please in season 11.