‘Back to the Future’s Michael J. Fox Explains How His Dog Gus Helps in Parkinson’s Battle

by Jennifer Shea

Actor Michael J. Fox is shining a spotlight on the importance of furry family members. His is named Gus.

In “Back to the Future,” Fox hung around with Doc Brown and his trusty dog Einstein. But in real life, Fox has his own canine companion.

Fox Opens Up About Gus

Fox recently chatted with CBS’s Lee Cowan for the network’s primetime special, “The Pet Project.” And he opened up about the role that his dog Gus plays in his life.

Gus, who is now 12, is a “Great Dane-ish” mutt. He has been with Fox about half the time that Fox has struggled with Parkinson’s disease. And he plays a big role in Fox’s new book, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.”

“You know that no matter your situation, no matter what you feel, this animal is with you and is connected to you, and you feel, it’s a force multiplier,” Fox told Cowan.

Fox doesn’t always feel so great due to the Parkinson’s. He says some days are better than others, but Gus is there for him every day.

When Fox had to have a tumor removed from his spinal cord two years ago, Gus was there to help him recover. The dog greeted Fox when he arrived home in a wheelchair.

“He kind of circles the wheelchair, with this low kind of woof woof, woof woof, and sat in front of the wheelchair right in front of me, and looked at me, and I said, ‘It’s gonna be okay,'” Fox recalled.

True New Yorkers

Some animals can sense when their humans are feeling under the weather. Fox said he’s sure Gus is attuned to him in that way.

“I know with Gus he does, he knows there’s something different about me,” Fox said. “And your instinct when you have a chronic illness is, sometimes, to isolate and make your world as small as possible so you don’t have as much to deal with. But a dog will open you up.”

In Central Park, where Fox walks Gus, there’s a bench with a special plaque. It says, “For Mike Fox and Gus. True New Yorkers.” Fox’s wife Tracy Pollan bought it for his birthday one year. It’s a memento of Fox and Gus’s time together, and a reminder of how much it means to both of them.