Charles Pol of The Incredible Dr. Pol fame is the number one son who really is his busy dad’s right hand, both in production behind the scenes and in business.
Now the two are collaborating on a very cool YouTube show called Recheck that parallels the Nat Geo WILD award-winning series that follows this tireless veterinarian through sleet, snow and spring babies.
After nearly 50 years in veterinary practice, including 17 seasons of the Nat Geo WILD TV show The Incredible Dr. Pol, Dr. Jan Pol remains incredibly passionate about all animals and their care.
Born and raised in the Netherlands on his family’s dairy farm, Dr. Pol moved to rural Michigan in the 1970s, where he’s raised a family and built a solid practice. Now the latest venture with son Charles is a variety show called Recheck, and a new line of pet and farm animal foods.
No animal is off limits as Charles and his dad have seen pets and livestock ranging from mice and snakes to cows and 2,600-pound horses. Their new YouTube series is a variety of entertaining, family friendly content:
Charles Pol and Dr. Pol recently collaborated with Consumers Supply to create a branded line of pet and farm animal food for horses, goats, chickens, and rabbits.
The Dr. Pol line was created with the hobby farmers in mind: Formulas were developed to meet the unique nutritional needs of each of these animals and help livestock owners overcome issues with digestion to maximizing nutrients with quality ingredients and avoiding waste.
TV Shows Ace spoke with Charles Pol about The Incredible Dr. Pol, his new series Recheck and the new line of pet foods:
How long have you been doing the television show with your dad?
Charles Pol: Oh my goodness, almost 10 years, since 2011…it started airing in 2012, but we taped it the first season in the summer of 2011.
In a weird way, you kind of grew up on the TV show?
Charles Pol: In a way I did. Well, I think I was an adult, maybe I was what they call a late starter and when we started the show, I was 32. And now I’m 41. So in a way I did grow up, but I was somewhat grown up at that point.
You’ve got your own family now. And they’re involved in the show.
Charles Pol: The whole process has been very organic, so it just feels kind of natural. My wife and I have known each other since we were little children. We were friends before we got together. It kind of just made the whole process the best kind, joining the cast in a very seamless and organic way. And obviously Abigail’s a natural, almost to a scary extent, the way that she sees that camera and just beams at it. And I’m like wow.,
How did the Recheck show come to be?
Charles Pol: We did a lot of Facebook live posts with our fans connecting, it was a great medium to be able to connect with the fans and interact with them. I think social media in this generation of television versus like even 10 years ago, the ability to connect with your fan base is on another level.
Through that process, we saw a lot of people just very interested in Dr. Pol. And we have a huge international following all across the world, Brazil, Italy, Belgium. We started seeing a lot of people responding from there. We started seeing people from the United States and Canada getting into the videos that we’re producing.
I just wanted to be able to produce more content for people. So we decided to start a YouTube page called Dr. Pol Presents, because it will have a host of content. Some with Dr. Pol, or myself, some friends of Dr. Pol.
We set up the YouTube account up in the first step project we worked on was a companion piece show, Recheck is a roughly 20 minute variety show that doesn’t have a strict format. We’ve had a little bit of music, we’ve answered fan questions. We’ve done a little bit of game show bits with our audience. Just trying to have a lot of fun to allow people to get to know our characters more, try to get them more information and more entertainment basically for our audience.
How do you get questions for you and your dad?
Charles Pol: We put an announcement up on our Facebook page, taking questions and then we pulled from there. We have a frequently asked questions page on our website where people can look on how to ask questions, or where to ask questions.
Now tell me what are the Cluckettes?
Charles Pol: The Cluckettes are from my little hobby of writing parody music. I get these ideas when I’m walking around and I think of myself, the other day I was humming or listening to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. And I just started humming to myself “Old school Dr. Pol.”
The Cluckettes were inspired by the Chordettes Mr. Sandman. And my wife’s like, Oh, that’s kind of catchy. You should do something with it. She had a friend who is a very talented musician, very talented lyricist.
And I gave my lyrics and she gave it a whole life of its own. We animated it with some chickens because it’s something from the perspective of chickens and, and that there are the Cluckettes. So that’s kind of how that came to be.
Now, your dad Dr. Pol is in good health?
Charles Pol: Yes, he’s in fantastic health actually, probably, it’s funny because he had his ankle that had arthritis. It was really bothering him. So when we first started, he was in really good health for his age, and that’s where the name “incredible” came from was that everyone was just blown away by this guy and his energy level at his age.
I think he was 69 at the time when we started. And he started slowing down a couple of years ago with his ankle and decided to get that ankle surgery and ever since then, it’s been a revitalized Dr. Pol. it gave him another spring to a step.
I’ve seen him the last few years actually hit his energy level, kind of returned back to where it was almost where we started. I mean, the guy’s got endless energy, even more than I do. And he’s 36 years my senior,
Does he have a secret? Does he eat a certain diet?
Charles Pol: He says never give up, never give up. That’s his secret. He is old school, he really is. Do not forget that Dr. Pol was born in 1942 in the Netherlands which probably resembled 1890 America more than it did 1940 America. You know what I mean?
His family didn’t have a tractor when he started, and Europe at that time was lagging way behind in that technical advancement that America had made in the earliest of the 20th century.
So I think one of the reasons why my dad connects so well to Amish and the Amish community is because essentially he was almost raised Amish. I mean he did have electricity but he pumped his own water.
They had to use horses to plow the fields and the farm. That was the life that he lived growing up for several years until he got more into his teenage years and things started progressing with being able to buy a tractor and all that kind of stuff.
It adds up when you work hard like that, that just adds [physical] resilience that I think you’re seeing pay off. I’ve seen the same thing in Amish communities in old farmers around here, you go around and you meet old farmers or old Amish farmers, for example, and they have that same kind of grit and determination and ability to just keep going the same as Dr. Pol has.
Everybody’s dealing with COVID. How are you dealing with COVID?
Charles Pol: COVID-19 is obviously been a big game changer, not just for the country, but for us as well this year. We’ve adapted, I mean, that’s the bottom line. The office visits are going to look very different, because people are basically staying out in their cars, the vets are going out to them and interacting out in the parking lot. And everybody’s wearing masks obviously.
We’ve just tried to keep it safe. But the main thing is I think minimizing the interaction within the indoor space of the clinic. So they bring animals and work on the animals, bring them out back to your owner. If they need the owner to be there, then the owner will come into the clinic, but it’s kind of like the owner doesn’t come into the clinic unless they have to be there.
We are really trying to be smart and safe about it and make these adjustments where it makes sense. Now, when it comes to wintertime, that’s a conversation that we still need to have about how we’re going to handle it.
We’ll have to see an, an adjust as, as conditions change, but luckily it’s been a beautiful summer and that’s allowed us to keep social distancing to a maximum.
How long have you had the role as executive producer?
Charles Pol: I’ve been a producers from the very beginning, my actual role in the show headed involved. When we first sold the show I created and sold the show with two partners that I worked with that at Nickelodeon, we will look working together with Nickelodeon and we were doing reality shows as we felt it was where you could really make something happen for yourself.
Working in feature films is hard, but nowadays it’s [even more] cost prohibitive. It’s difficult to become a self starter in feature films, but in reality show you need a camera and you need a subject. Who’s good? So it was something that we could actually do and pick up a camera and go out and do.
We had worked on a number of concepts and done this thing that I thought was going to sell. I was really happy with it. And we got some feedback from the network and they said, we love the concept. We love everything. We love the style. We love what you guys are doing, but they said, you really need to find a piece of talent that is larger than life.
And I said to my friends, the person I know who’s the biggest larger than life character that I’ve ever met is my own father. And I said, he has his veterinary practice and this is what he did. And the more I would tell stories about that, the more they’re like, yeah. Yeah. I think that could be really great.
That is kind of how the whole thing started. When we sold the show to Nat Geo, the first week on production, I was producing it. I wasn’t even on the show. So the first couple of days of filming was just my dad by himself. And it was boring because he’s just treating animals, he’s talking to the client, we’re not really getting any part of his personality out because it’s my dad was interacting with animals.
We had an idea to have me come home to visit. And if you watch that first episode, the whole plot of the episode was as I was coming home to visit and ride with my dad. And that is what we did. My dad came alive, it gave him a springboard to bounce off and really demonstrate his personality by having me there. There was something magical about it.
I really felt like the best way I could help with the show was to become a cast member on it. I don’t know of any other reality show that does it like this. So our show is very different because everyone says to us, Oh, well, your show is very authentic. It doesn’t feel produced. It doesn’t feel scripted it’s because it’s not.
Through my involvement in the cast, I can be an element or an invisible hand of the producers to kind of move pieces where we need it to do, to make an episode rounded out… if that makes sense. I think allowed us to produce a lot of cool things without being filming while keeping that kind of hands off, very documentary feeling approach.
It has worked well and my main job on the show is obviously as a veterinary consultant, I probably know more about veterinary medicine than any of the other producers on the show. So I’m constantly answering questions and bringing people up to speed on different things that they have about veterinary medicine. And in addition to that, I work with Dr. Pol to help him get the best performance. That is my main task, working with all the vets in the clinic and being that kind of go-to person from the production staff to producers, to the talent.
Tell me about your new line of pet and farm foods for hobbyist pet owners and farmers?
Charles Pol: My dad and I worked together on the new Dr. Pol line of foods, and it has been an amazing experience.
We started out with chicken food, to be honest with you, because I was saying to my dad that I was very dissatisfied with the chicken food that was available to us.
You either had a scratch grains, which is like crack corn and scratch grains that you kind of mixed together to feed your chickens, or you had a crumble or layer pellets, which are essentially the same thing. Crumble is just layer pellets, they’re smashed up…that’s the only difference.
I really didn’t like it because on the one hand with the crumble and the pellets, the chickens don’t really like it. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it looks like gray pieces of dirt. And they waste a lot of it.
The problem with that is that when you mix the vitamins and minerals into the scratch grain, the chickens would go and eat the parts that they liked and leave the other stuff. So they were not getting a very good balanced diet. I was really unhappy with my options. And when we went and we met with consumer supply distributors, who are the manufacturer, we sat down and we began to kind of talk about what a food line would look like.
It was through that process of saying, well, we don’t like this. Or we’re worried about that. And we began to work together to design a food line to solve some of these issues. So, our chicken food is really—I don’t think there’s anything on the market like it—that I’ve come across.
It’s an extruded chicken feed. It gives it a higher calorie count because cooked food has higher calories and uncooked food. There’s more safety in it because it’s cooked. So anything that could be in it like salmonella, is cooked. So it’s killed.
There’s a little bit of safety factor, although that’s not the big feature. I would say the big feature is the animals love it. And that’s, that’s the key is that it tastes like corn. It doesn’t taste like gruel. So when they eat it, it tastes like a scratch grain, but it’s got the benefit of the layer pellet in that it’s a complete ration with all the minerals and everything that chicken needs.
Every food has that element of it. Like the horse food is also extruded. And you can feed it to every level of horse from the youngest to the oldest, but with senior horses, particular, lot of them have teeth problems but they can eat ours and are getting that nutrient. So you’ll find it a lot less droppings, a lot less waste. My dad’s been prescribing the horse grain to a lot of horses that he sees here, and people are really responding to it because they’re going to, they see immediate impact on their horses’ weight. It is a high quality food.
We got a response from somebody who actually works at Tractor Supply. They said that they work there and they sell the goat feed. And that he said that our feed was like crack for goats. And couldn’t get enough of it!
People say, well there’s a billion different pet brands. I think that’s one of the things was that we wanted to get a quality pet food, so somebody could buy our pet food and know that they’re feeding their animals a real quality pet food.
Our ingredients of our dog food lists chicken is the number one ingredient, and it’s a dehydrated powder chicken. A lot of companies will put in either chicken meal, which is a bunch of bones and stuff baked down to get the protein out of it, or they’ll put in wet chicken. What happens when you have wet chicken? Is that when you cook that down, the weight, all water cooks out. So the weight of that chicken goes way down and it goes from being the first ingredient to the third or fourth ingredient, but then they don’t have to change that. It’s a little secret thing that they do, right? Ours is a dried chicken powder. It’s not like a meal that’s cooked down and boiled down. I don’t think we could get higher quality ingredients.
The next episode of Recheck will air on Sept 12 at 10:30pm right after the 90 minute super-sized season The Incredible Dr. Pol finale.
Head over and subscribe to Dr Pol’s new YouTube Channel where you can see extras and Recheck, and receive notifications for the next episode.