So I’m pretty sure I’m about the blow the lid off a new TV show right now. Being an animal lover, I was recently recommended a little gem of a program on Nat Geo Wild (a little niche, I know) called ‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’. It’s a Reality Show following a veteran veterinarian, if you will, and his family-run veterinary practice in the visceral metropolis of Weidman, Michigan. Now, if you’re the kind of person who thinks that puppy abscess drainage and Equine vaginal discharge are criminally underrepresented in American television, then this is SO the show for you. Apparently this artful piece of programing has been on the air since 2011 but since I’m not a weirdo who Googles “Eastern European Doctor Shows Probing Goat Anus” I’m just stumbling upon it now.
First off, It’s a little refreshing to watch a reality show that doesn’t a) seem like it’s been scripted from the ground up by an intern at Interscope Records and b) isn’t centered around either the dregs of society or blond debutantes with HPV. So, I suppose that I had envisioned the show being about a rickety old man checking kittens’ heartbeats with a stethoscope and saying cute things like “She’s purrfect!” but Dr. Pol really gets down to the nitty gritty with these critters (ergo the “WILD” in Nat Geo Wild). In the first case I saw on one recent episode, this man and his sons hauled their pickup with a trailer in tow carrying a VERY sick looking cow. This thing was in really dire shape. She could barely stand, had mucus and tears running out of every orifice and just looked generally fucking awful. So Dr. Pol rolls up, takes a look at the ol’ girl, and then suddenly rams his entire arm in that cow’s vagina like he was Pooh Bear and that horse was a Bee Hive with brown discharge. So once he gets in there a MASSIVE deluge of fluid comes pouring out. THEN WE ALL REALIZE: SHE’S PREGNANT (omg omg omg). Does Dr. Pol say “well perhaps we should see if the calf comes out naturally”? Shit to the no! This cow is sick and we need to get that baby out STAT! He reaches back in and gets his son Charles (we’ll get there in a minute) to tie these barbaric, Medieval-looking chains to the baby and pull it out with all their force. It did not come out easily but once it did, it spills out covered in goop and it’s completely dead. It was really unsettling. I mean, I get it, it’s a part of life but yikes…and the worst part is that the dude’s kid showed absolutely no concern or remorse about the dead animal that fell out of another animal in front of them. In fact, one of them had the (un-descended) balls to smirk and say “can we eat it for dinner?”. Homeboy needs to find some couth. Although Dr. Pol of course didn’t exactly bemoan this untimely cow death either because he deals with this every day and at least he probably saved the Mother cow. I genuinely considered pursuing a career as a Veterinarian recently until I realized how icky it was!
And don’t even get me started on the other cow that Dr. Pol had to kill on the spot because it was born without a butthole and wasn’t able release its own feces. Oh, and the cow that was starving because it was born with a dog’s mouth and the food it tried to eat would fall out (yes, those things really happened!!!).
One of the best parts of this show is Dr. Brenda, who, from what I can infer, is Dr. Pol’s right hand-man and the other Veterinarian at the practice. She’s a big gal and is a woman of few words, but she’s a also no-nonsense powerhouse of healing power and I love her. She had a case recently where a cow (they do have other animals besides cows but they’re not as interesting) was sick and turned out to have a “twisted stomach”. Now, that’s what happens to me when I drink too much and think a pound of al pastor at the taco truck sounds like a good idea but it ALSO means when one of a cow’s stomachs (they have like 30 or something) gets twisted and displaced IN THEIR BODY. So Dr. Brenda was on it! She and the farmers rigged up this network of ropes tied around the cow’s limbs they all pulled to get the animal on its back (which is actually harder than it looks) so she could somehow stitch the cow’s stomach back into place. Needless to say, this show does put my daily life in perspective. I get huffy when I get a work email that doesn’t have an emoticon, meanwhile Dr. Brenda is sewing cow stomachs and picking parasites out of Horse stool. There was also this one time where Dr. Brenda had to stay late because a woman called with a goat who had broken its leg and Dr. Brenda MacGyvered this splint out of pipe cleaners or something. So, basically she’s a saint in a human’s body.
Then there’s Dr. Pol’s son Charles. Charles is sort of the resident punching bag of the show. Apparently Charles moved away from Michigan to LA to become a TV producer but then conveniently returned to aid his father at work when some trucks full of cameras mysteriously appeared at their doorstep and started filming (I’m on to you, Chuckie). He is effectively his father’s assistant during an off-site job and seems to struggle not only with his work but also just about everything else in the world. He’s a sweet guy, but even I could catch a pig and hack its testicles off better than Charles. Sidenote: Charles is currently rocking a beard on the show and it’s making serious waves not only at work but at home [but I digress]. I have to feel bad for the guy for being the butt of every joke though. Or at least I did until he tried to make Eggs Benedict on Easter Sunday. He kept dropping the yolk down the sink and then the Hollandaise sauce broke so he just put out some fruit…it was disgraceful.
The show certainly doesn’t shy away from the ethically complex issue of animal euthanasia either. One man brought his Bloodhound in because it had broken its leg and was so violently angry about it he couldn’t be approached without attacking someone. I mean, while the owner was opening the door to his truck this dog bit his hand so bad HE needed to go to the hospital. So Dr. Pol whipped out a restraining tool, sedated the FUCK out of him and took some X-Rays. He then referred the owner to a specialist as the break was so severe even he couldn’t treat it (and he has his own show!!!). The owner called back and said “Doc, (I’m paraphrasing here) this dog is so out of control he’s a danger to everyone around him. I would like you to euthanize him”. When the owner brought the dog back, Dr. Pol, in an especially emotional moment, euthanized the animal right there. The owner talked about having him since he was a puppy and this otherwise stone-faced Midwestern farmer was reduced to a puddle of tears. All kidding aside though, sometimes I do believe euthanasia is the most humane way to treat an animal. It comes down to not only a quality of life but also an issue of public safety. I think in this case, Dr. Pol and the dog’s owner did the right thing.
If anyone wants to be fucking grossed out and oddly riveted I would recommend tuning in to this show, Saturdays at 10pm (I honestly think that’s its time slot). I’ll be there if you want to join me!