The Incredible Dr. Pol

Dateline: 4 February 2015

Why is this cow on its back? Well, it's probably because it has a twisted stomach. If so, Dr. Pol (right) has gotten the stomach back in place and is putting in a few stitches to hold it there. You will be familiar with this procedure after watching The Incredible Dr. Pol.

Since I don’t have cable service or watch any television (and haven’t for years) I tend to be one of the last to find out about any particularly good programs that are worth watching. Such is the case with The Incredible Dr. Pol. The show first aired in 2011 and I just “discovered” it last week. 

I found it as I was browsing through Netflix, looking for something that was positive or educational to watch on a cold winter night. I’m not into watching comedy, crime, horror, sports, westerns, romance, or war movies. Some historical and biographical documentaries interest me. A wholesome family-focused movie (usually of older vintage) will get my attention too. I would guess that 99% of the titles offered on Netflix are unappealing to me—many are downright offensive. 

So when my browsing mouse landed on The Incredible Dr. Pol, a “reality” show about a veterinarian in Michigan, and I saw it was rated five stars, I decided to give it a try. It was a pleasant discovery. Marlene and I have now watched most of the first two seasons (all that are available on Netflix), and we have become great fans of the incredible doctor. There are so many good aspects to this fascinating, family-friendly program. 

Dr. Pol amazes me because he is still going strong at 70+ years of age. The man is not only a dedicated master at his craft but a very hard worker. As a large animal vet he goes out to farms and is often up to his armpits in the rectums of cows and horses. Delivering problem calves can be particularly brutal. The Dr. typically strips to the waist for such deliveries and may struggle for over an hour with bare hands and arms deep in the uterus. It’s a messy life and death struggle and sometimes the calf doesn’t come out alive. If it does, it always gets a cold bucket of water splashed onto its head. The water shocks the calf and it “gasps” into breathing

After watching some episodes of the show you will learn a lot about dealing with animals and treating them. For example, I dare say I could reinstall a prolapsed bovine uterus, if I had to, but I sure wouldn’t want to.

Aside from the diversity of animal problems and solutions, and the amazing vitality of Dr. Pol, the show focuses on Dr. Pol’s family (his son and wife help with the business), his clinic employees, and so many long-time community relationships. It is powerfully endearing to my agrarian mindset.

Like any reality show for television, there are some contrived aspects, but they don’t detract from the genuineness of what Dr.Pol and his veterinary team do. 

I suspect most people reading this already know about Dr. Pol. If, however, you have not yet watched The Incredible Dr. Pol, I heartily recommend that you check out some show clips and episodes on YouTube or Netflix.

Dr. Pols' wife, Diane, is an integral part of the family business.
She takes the calls and "tells him where to go."


Anonymous said...

We love this show, watch it on Netflix.

An At Home Daughter said...

We don't have satellite or cable either. They just started playing his show on "free" TV here a few months ago. My family loves it! Then I found them at the library. They had all three seasons, and his book. I just finished the book and really enjoyed it.

Herrick Kimball said...


I see Dr. Pol's book has lots of good reviews at Amazon. I'll have to add it to my must-read list.

Have you read any of the James Herriot books? I remember reading them when I was a teen and really liked them. But the British series based on his life wasn't all that appealing to me.

Jon Pol appears to be America's version of James Herriot.

Mrs. V said...

All Creatures Great & Small are also on Netflix, but currently not for streaming. A friend was telling me of it as I was extolling Dr. Pol to her. Playing "Dr. Pol" in my house means our 4, 6, & 8 year old bust out the jump rope "chains" to pull a calf out of the recliner or putting on a pretend elbow glove & reaching into the closed recliner to palpate or grab a leg, it's cute as all get out.

Herrick Kimball said...

Mrs. V,—
That brings a smile to my face. Awesome good play acting!

Gail said...

I have watched this for a while. Love it and have learned much.

Everett R Littlefield said...

Been watching this for the last three years and absolutely love it. Been there with the rope for pulling out a calf at 14 YO!
My eight year old granddaughter has us record the episodes so she can watch them. With her mothers blessing, we do
He lives the life that I remember as a youth!

Best Everett

timfromohio said...

Thanks for this recommendation. I'll see if we can get it from the library.

Years back you mentioned "Victorian Farm". In case you are unaware, there are others in that series. "Tales from the Green Valley", "Victorian Farm", "Edwardian Farm", "Wartime Farm", and "Tudor Monestary Farm" (in order of release). They are all excellent. You might check them out when you finish Dr. Pol

An At Home Daughter said...

Yes I read his books when I was about 14. I absolutely loved them. Tristan's pranks cracked me up. We also got the video series from the library and I didn't like them. I felt it just didn't do justice to the books, and that the actors didn't look anything like the characters described books.

Pam Baker said...

I concur with timfromohio. You turned me onto the Victorian farm and I watched them all including "The Victorian Pharmacy".
Dr Pol is quite fun and educational to watch. Not bad for a reality show.
Even though "Farm Kings" are a reality show about farmers who embrace Joel Salatin's methods, don't waste a second of your time.
And although I am partial to my next suggestion for obvious reasons, it is truly excellent writing, and a warm, caring show...the BBC's, "Call the Midwife". It has been on for five years but netflix only has the first three years.
You also might consider any of the Nova shows by PBS.
I tend to have old black and white movies on while doing housework and preparing meals. Comes from so much time alone.

Lyle Stout said...

I grew up on a dairy farm and participated in much of that - DA, calf pulling, displaced uterus, mastitis, etc. I raised my children on an acreage where they had a small goat dairy and kept up the tradition in "miniature.". My daughter is now a dairy veterinarian in Wisconsin and does this stuff all of the time. It's real life, for sure.

Mel said...

My kids love watching (and re-watching) Dr. Pol. Like you, I loved the James Herriot books, and have read them all several times over. As and adult, I tried to watch the TV series (watched it as a child with my parents) and just could not sit through it.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Pol is a Christian. One episode shows that he and his family are active in their church.

Herrick Kimball said...

Those are great programs. Maybe I'll start watching them again. The only one I haven't seen is the Tudor Monastery one. Thanks.

Marlene has watched "Call The Midwife" and really liked it. She did not know there was more than what is available on Netflix. I'll avoid Farm Kings based on your advice.

That is quite an achievement for your daughter! And you too. Very nice.

I wondered about that. I have not seen the episode yet. Glad to know it.

That part (pulling a calf) wasn't in your book. But that's probably because it wasn't as exciting (traumatic) as, for example, being chased up the road by a herd of pigs, or getting a hatchet imbedded into your head. You had a remarkable childhood!

Anonymous said...

Dr Poll (he is a Frisian out of the Netherlands) it's our favourite program but in this area we can not see all the episodes. this is a real story on yt. Siberian woman live alone in the wildernes. I think you will find this interesting! Margriet uit Holland

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Margriet,

I have watched the movie about the Siberian woman. And I did find it very interesting. It is an amazing story.
Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, G.B. Margriet