Life with dogs

Social studies teacher Gary Neuzil talks about his growing dog family and shares what made him come to love the animals.


Maddi Shinall

Mr. Neuzil lovingly poses with one of his dogs, Orson.

If you were to see Gary Neuzil’s house full of tiny little dogs ranging from chihuahuas to mixed yorkie-pomeranians, you would never believe that he did not consider himself a dog person until he got married.

“I grew up in a family with hunting dogs. I never cared for [dogs] because I was bit really bad when I was a young child,” said Neuzil. “But you fall in love, and the woman you fall in love with has an old yorkie [named Chester] and that’s part of the package, you become a dog person by default,” said Neuzil.

After their first dog Chester died, the Neuzils decided to keep getting dogs and adding to their family.

Even though Neuzil became a dog person for his wife, he hardly minds when she asks for another one. It has become such a big part of their family and their home to have so many dogs running around that they have found a pattern in order to control their collection of dogs.

“After someone in the family got a new puppy or had a baby, we felt the need to get a new dog. A growing family for 24 years, all small dogs. When one dog passes, we get two more in grief,” he said.

With a current total of nine dogs and 11 as the most he has ever had at one time, it can become time consuming to take care of all of them.

Maddi Shinall
Orson, Mr. Neuzil’s dog, stares into the camera while he’s held.

“In Iowa City we need to maintain a kennels license because we have more than two dogs. We have to maintain an approval from IC Animal Shelter, dogs must be up on their shots and the house gets a visit yearly to make sure everything is clean and the dogs have access to water and to the yard and all those things. We have a fence to make sure the dogs have free range and can get some exercise and have some adventures,” said Neuzil.

As long as they get along and they can live a full life, there is no limit of dogs”

— Gary Neuzil

Despite the long process, the benefits of having so many dogs outweighs the downside of getting more dogs.

Knowing that dogs can bring such joy to people makes it easy for Neuzil to keep adding more dogs to the family and grow to become a dog person.

“As long as they get along and they can live a full life, there is no limit of dogs.”

Although it can be time-consuming or sometimes annoying to have so many tiny mouths to feed and take care of, the mutual love of dogs is only seen as a positive to Neuzil.

“They are just constantly part of the family. They are fun, they all have their own personality, they each have their own persona and style and it’s fun to see the chemistry as we add new dogs and others pass on,” said Neuzil.

When you’re sick they can just bring a little joy and when you’re happy they can just make you happier”

— Gary Neuzil

Not only are they part of the family, some of the Neuzil dogs have even been a part of the school and part of the student’s lives that were in Neuzil’s classes.

Before the school changed its policies on allowing pets on campus, Neuzil would bring one of his dogs, Bruno, to class with him. Students would be able to have class with the dog, and Bruno even learned how to get on the elevator and how to get around the school on his own. Neuzil remembers how happy it made the students in his class.

“When you’re sick they can just bring a little joy and when you’re happy they can just make you happier.”