best friend' is now in need of help
saying a dog is a mans best friend has proven
true over and over for the Gauck family of Cross Plains. Now,
its time for them to be his, or in this case her, best friend.
This is a story about Cuddles, an Australian Shepherd mix dog
that is a service animal for George Gauck, who suffers not only
from a work-related injury, but seven years ago was diagnosed
with Multiple Sclerosis.
The couple, George and Mary, got Cuddles when she was just five
weeks old. The puppy had gotten a rough start, according to the
Gaucks, when her mother died in a house fire when Cuddles was
just three days old. She was raised by hand, thats
why I feel she is so good at her job and made it so my wife could
train her to do the things for me that she does, George
Mr. Gauck noted that he has had to be transported to the hospital
by ambulance and the EMTs were impressed with Cuddles. She
also took a trip with him to the hospital where she was right
beside him in the bed with the doctors and nurses amazed at her
While Mr. Gauck has had a bit of bad luck in his lifetime, he
never dwells on it. He worked for 17 years for Hill-Rom in the
press department. He was hurt on the job causing two disks in
his neck to come out of place and eventually disable him. He said
he didnt ask for anything from the company, he knows things
Then two years later, another bomb shell was dropped on him. He
was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He does everything
he possibly can for himself, his wife, Mary, noted. He agreed
he even takes care of his own medications, and has to remember
when to take each of the 21 pills a day. Sometimes its
a little confusing, they both laughed.
Cuddles has brought joy and happiness and a sense of peace to
Mary as she leaves for work each day. She also works at Hill-Rom
in Batesville. She knows the dog will look out for her husband.
But, what they didnt know was that Cuddles was also able
to sense medical needs of others.
Over the Memorial Day weekend their grandson was injured. He was
taken to Childrens Hospital in Cincinnati where Cuddles
kept going over to him and sniffing around his head. The couple
noted that it was later discovered he had a fractured skull right
where the dog was sniffing.
Another hurdle came this summer when Cuddles began to limp. She
was taken to the veterinary clinic right away where she was simply
diagnosed with arthritis. She continued to get worse and so the
couple took her to the Waltz Animal Clinic in Madison when they
could eventually get her an appointment. She was literally so
bad at that point she couldnt stand by herself.
Mary carried Cuddles into the clinic where it was immediately
suggested they see a specialist in Cincinnati. They wound up at
the Cincinnati Animal Referral and Emergency Center, and none
too soon. The X-rays showed Cuddles had to have ligaments and
tendons in both back legs replaced and soon.
Surgery was performed the next day which was August 25. The staff
there told the Gaucks that they knew Cuddles was not used to being
kept in a dog pen, so they allowed her to stay out with the nurses
and other staff. They praised how well she worked with them and
Mary explained that Cuddles is trained to voice-command,
which was displayed during the interview with the newspaper.
The surgery was expensive within itself, not to mention follow-up
treatment, physical therapy, medication and special food.
We opted to do the physical therapy ourselves and save some
money, Mary noted. And, since she has personally trained
Cuddles, it has worked out well. She just came through her check
up on Monday, October 5 with flying colors.
Mary was close to tears when she noted that they do everything
they can for themselves. Weve cut out everything extra,
we dont go out to eat, except to get a hamburger once in
a while, she noted, saying they have done everything in
their power to cut expenses and pay for taking care of Cuddles
But, this week, Mary is on shut-down from Hill-Rom, and worries
about her job as well. Its too much if you think about
it very long, she shared.
The Gaucks have six months since the surgery to get the bill paid
off without interest beginning to accrue. When the interest kicks
in, Mr. Gauck said it will be close to 30%.
Donation cans have been placed in various businesses throughout
the area for people to help share this burden. But, even at that,
there is the good, the bad and sometimes the very ugly. Mary held
up a plastic bag with a spent shell casing of a 22 caliber gun
in it that someone placed inside one of the donation jars. I
couldnt believe it, she said with tears streaming
down her face.
The newspaper was contacted by Tails of Hope Foundation, Inc.
a group that promotes critical challenges people face with service
animals such as Cuddles.
The Gaucks say after their bills are paid they will give any left
over money to the Waltz Animal Clinic and the Emergency Care Center
in Cincinnati for others who are in similar situations. We
dont want anything for ourselves, were not trying
to get rich off of this, noted Mary, as she looked lovingly
at Cuddles, the one animal she can depend on to help when her
husband is down.
Those interested in giving to this cause can send a check to the
Gaucks at 5671 E. County Road 900 South, Cross Plains, IN 47017
or give them a call at 812-667-6923 if you want to contribute
directly to the financial institution where they owe the money.
Even though theyve had some ups and a lot of downs, the
couple were in good spirits, saying, People really are good.
They noted that a couple of churches in the area, St. Paul, Dewberry,
and the Cross Plains United Methodist Church had sent money for
their cause and it was greatly appreciated. Its all
appreciated, whether you put a quarter in a can, or send a check
for $100, they concluded.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
George Gauck has a close moment with Cuddles. Actually,
Cuddles just took a cough drop, one of his favorite treats,
from George's mouth without ever touching his skin. Cuddles
is very gentle with George and takes care of him when he
is in need. George is disabled from a work-related accident
and has been diagnosed with Multiple Schlerosis. Now Cuddles
is in need and George is asking for help for his beloved
service dog, companion and friend.