Home & Leisure

Calf pulling and puppy worming: rural vet Dr. Pol is reality TV's most unlikely star

Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

"And lucky for them they aren't also getting the smell," says Charles, the show's co-creator and producer, who isn't a vet but often accompanies his father on farm calls.

Pol speaks around the globe about the care and treatment of animals, a theme that runs throughout his book "Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet."

In person, he's a hearty character with brilliant blue eyes, a wicked sense of humor and a crushing handshake. He speaks with a Dutch accent yet peppers his conversation with classic Americanisms such as "yep" and "well, lemme tell ya."


The universal draw of helping animals, which can mean saving their lives or simply deworming them, is the initial lure of the show. It follows in a long tradition of unscripted shows featuring vets and animals that dates to "All Things Bright and Beautiful."

Other Nat Geo Wild shows feature furry and feathered fare, but they don't have Pol as a main point of entry, and it's clear what's missing. His quick wit, years of experience, stubborn tenacity and generous heart are a big part of the show's draw as he makes his way across bucolic green fields and bone-chilling winter blizzards to reach his patients.

"It's a slice of life that I think people feel very nostalgic for, even if they never experienced it themselves growing up," says Charles while taking a break with his dad between events at the conference. "There's also lots of space, open landscape, animals and ... "

Pol, who was seated across the table, jumps in, "and that time when I dropped the syringe and Charles bent down to pick it up and boom, he got it in the head from a steer. Three cameras caught it. Where else can you see that?" he jokes.

The doctor's quick wit, and episodes with titles like "Twist and Snout," "Show Me the Bunny," "Noah's Bark" and "Paw and Order" counterbalance the heavier moments and loss that come with the territory.

Calves die unless they're delivered on time, and even then there's no guarantee. Dogs and cats cling to life after being hit by cars, shot by cowardly snipers or attacked by other animals. Sick horses are put down. It's sad but also realistic, no artificial happy endings here.


swipe to next page


blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


Gary Markstein Non Sequitur Doonesbury Ballard Street Take It From The Tinkersons Andy Marlette