Kauai vet shares animal adventures on National Geographic TV show

Whether it’s treating a baby horse with a skin condition, clipping an alpaca’s toenails or conducting ultrasounds on pygmy goats, Bartholomew “Buckeye” Bottoms is never bored.

The vet travels around Kauai and Maui with his dog, Kevin, visiting and treating animals with medical issues.

Recently, his trips caught the attention of Nat Geo Wild, which partnered with Bottoms to pilot a three-episode series called “The Adventures of Dr. Buckeye Bottoms.”

The series, which premiered on Feb. 18, is a dream come true, Bottoms said.

“I’ve been trying to get a reality show about my life as a vet since 2006. So this is my 10-year project coming through,” he said. “I went through several companies and kept getting shut down. Now I finally have my chance to tell my story as a mobile practitioner.”

In the first two episodes, he was on Kauai and Maui, where he treated dogs, pigs, cattle, horses, donkeys, alpaca goats and more.

The final episode, called “Case of the Horny Goat,” will air Saturday on National Geographic WILD at 5 and 8 p.m.

“I’m excited about this show because the other ones out there follow vets who are specialized in one thing,” he said. “But the average person can have an interesting life and still has stories to tell. So that’s my message — basic, interesting and fun-loving stories, and to try to make the world a better place for the animals.”

The film crew followed Bottoms for about six weeks before going into post-production, which took about four months to complete.

While the show has only been on TV for two weeks, Bottoms said he’s already received fan mail from across the country.

“I’ve had interactions with people who told me how I changed their life,” he said. “A woman wrote to me who said she was from Hawaii but was going through some issues and had to move to the mainland. She turned on the TV one day, watched my show, and it convinced her to move back home.”

It was something Bottoms said he never expected to happen.

“I had no idea my animal show would affect people’s lives,” he said. “I did one little thing, and it had a domino effect. I’m changing the world, one episode at a time.”

Originally from Santa Barbara, California, Bottoms said there were two moments during his childhood that inspired him to become a vet.

“I remember watching National Geographic with my mom, and she started crying about the loss of the rainforest. I started crying because she was crying,” he said. “She told me, ‘It’s so sad; you have to help.’ It really affected me, as corny as it sounds.”

When he was in high school, Bottoms helped his father take care of 25 horses on their property. One day, he helped a vet with a medical procedure and realized it wasn’t hard.

“So I started driving around, helping people with their animals,” he said.

Bottoms received a degree in animal science from California Polytechnic State University in 2000. He worked in Santa Cruz, California, as a mobile large animal vet from 2004 to 2006. He has been a mobile vet on Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island since 2007.

The most rewarding part of the job is knowing he made a difference in an animal’s life, Bottoms said.

“Whether it’s a parasite or a cut, or if an animal is dehydrated or needs to be euthanized, I know I made the overall good decision, which is doing what I believe is right for animals,” he said. “It’s an art because every case is different.”

When he’s not tending to the sick and injured pets and other domestic animals on the islands, Bottoms also dedicates his time to protect wild animals.

“I’ve always had this love for the native species, and the idea of endangered species and losing an animal, that has a place in my heart,” he said.

If the first three episodes of “The Adventures of Dr. Buckeye Bottoms” are well received, there will be discussion about making it a longer series, Bottoms said.

But whatever happens, he’s happy with what he’s accomplished.

“I’m going to let it go and not worry about it,” he said.

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