Dr Jan Pol may be well known in the United States (and around the world) thanks to his hit reality show Nat Geo Wild, The incredible Dr Pol, but it was not always so. He lived to adulthood in the Netherlands and eventually made his way to the United States.
Dr Jan Pol’s family were all about animals
In his memories Never turn your back on an Angus cowDr. Pol tells a story of his grandfather in a story that explains his own relationship with animals.
“My mother was telling us a story about her grandfather, who was said to be able to hypnotize animals,” he wrote.
Dr Pol’s great-grandfather met his hometown butcher who had with him “a great and wicked German Shepherd-Saint-Bernard cross”. The butcher warned the elder Pol not to touch the dog as he would be bitten. He challenged the butcher telling him to “go ahead and let him go.”
The butcher freed the dog from its leash. My great-grandfather and this dog looked at each other. None of them moved. Then the dog sat down. My great-grandfather took a step forward; the dog stepped back. And this dog was never really a watchdog after that.
Everything changed for Dr Pol when he met his wife
Before meeting and marrying his wife Diane, Dr Pol had considered moving to New Zealand to open a veterinary practice. But her plans changed after meeting her.
The couple met while an exchange student at Mayville High School in Michigan in 1961, during his senior year. They kept in touch after his return to the Netherlands. After a while, Dr Pol asked Diane to come and meet her parents. At this point, they knew their relationship was beyond pen pals and ultimately decided to get married.
“I stayed with the Dalrymple family in the small town of Mayville, Michigan,” wrote Dr. Pol. “I was 18 and in the same class as their daughter, Diane. [She] and I quickly became a friend. We were very similar in many ways, but mostly in our love of animals.
Eventually the couple married in 1967, continued to live in the Netherlands for a few more years, and eventually life brought them back to Michigan where Dr Pol worked alongside another vet. He opened his practice in the 1980s and this is where the Pol family stayed and grew.
“We worked in a room built in the corner of the garage until the practice got too big for that small space,” Dr. Pol told Today’s Veterinary Practice. Diane and I were able to buy more property next door and build a clinic, double width trailer, which was all we could afford with interest rates close to 20%.
Dr. Pol’s show cemented his American status
The practice grew, and then in 2011 Dr Pol’s son Charles convinced his father to try the idea of doing a reality show on his clinic. Now in its tenth year, The incredible Dr Pol is a testament to the power of hard work, persistence, and family love.
“No matter what happened,” Dr Pol said in his memoir, “for me it was a good opportunity to spend time with my son.” Once the show became a success, the vet made it clear to the network that “Animals come first. I told the team that I was not going to change the way I do my job and it was up to them to follow me.
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