‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’ on Finding a Kindred Spirit in His Wife Diane – ‘It Didn’t Occur to Us That We Were Falling in Love’

Part of the fun of watching Nat Geo Wild’s The Incredible Dr. Pol is seeing the teamwork on the doc’s staff. And even more so the strong marriage and friendship between the popular veterinarian and his wife, Diane.

Go behind the scenes to the Pols’ sweet love story that ultimately led to the hit reality show.

Dr. Jan Pol and his wife, Diane Pol
Dr. Jan Pol and his wife, Diane Pol | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

How Dr. Pol came to the United States

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The Incredible Dr. Pol is now in its seventeenth season. It’s plain to see on the program that Dr. Pol and his wife enjoy the assured affection and ease of most couples with many decades under their belt.

In his memoir, Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet, the doctor reminisces about coming to the United States as an exchange student from the Netherlands.

“I had come to the United States in 1961 as a high school exchange student,” Dr. Pol wrote. “When the notice was posted [at his high school] offering an opportunity to live and study in Michigan for a school year, I paid special attention to it. . . I applied for the program and was accepted, and my life was changed forever.”

A love of animals runs in Diane’s family as well

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It must help for a future veterinarian to have by his side someone who shares his love and care for animals. He noticed in Diane and her family, when he met them in the 1960s, the same respect for four-legged friends that he knew at home.

“We were very much the same in many ways, but especially in our love of animals,” he wrote. “Her family had dogs and cats and chickens, although their neighbors didn’t like the chickens waking them up early in the morning or scratching up their gardens.”

Dr. Pol has said numerous times that he knew he had “the calling” to be a veterinarian after caring for a sick chicken. He saw a parallel regard for creatures in his future love.

“I had my crippled chicken,” he shared. “When Diane was seven, she got a pet duck. . . . She had won the first little baby duck playing a game at the town carnival. She named her Patrick. Patrick must’ve thought that Diane was her mother, because she just followed her everywhere.”

Dr. Pol found the love of his life in Michigan

Dr. Pol described the family who sponsored him on his stay in America and their daughter, who was around his age and caught his eye.

“I stayed with the Dalrymple family in the small town of Mayville, Michigan,” he recalled. “I was eighteen years old and in the same grade as their daughter, Diane. Some people wonder why a family with a teenage daughter would invite a teenage boy to live in their home, but this was a very different time socially. I don’t remember anybody even questioning it then.”

Dr. Pol, center back row, and his future wife Diane to his left

The teenage Dr. Pol and Diane “quickly became friends. We were very much the same in many ways, but especially in our love of animals. . .” Diane, in fact, according to the father of three, described his future wife’s love for her pet duck, with which she even played tag at times.

“How could anybody not find a woman who played tag with her pet duck attractive? But we liked each other as friends so much, it didn’t even occur to us that maybe we were also falling in love,” he said.

The two married in 1967, and thirty years after opening Dr. Pol’s veterinary clinic in 1981 out of their garage, premiered The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Geo Wild.

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