Bausch is already a busy motivational speaker as well as a counselor and mentor to more than 70 people dealing with the kind of eating disorders that once controlled her life. For eight years she was also a court-appointed volunteer advocate for abused and neglected children.
Over time, however, that work proved emotionally draining. So a year ago Bausch became an advocate for animals instead, helping care for a menagerie that includes 83 cats, 39 dogs and 27 rabbits at the Irvine shelter.
"Dotsie is a big part of our family here," says Ron Edwards, animal care administrator for the city of Irvine. "Her enthusiasm and commitment is motivating."
But her Olympic dreams, Edwards says, were until recently a secret.
"No one there knows what I do. For all they know, I'm a secretary," says Bausch, who has worked more than 100 hours at the shelter. That earned her the coveted pink dot that's pasted to the laminated white name tag clipped to her vest, a recognition that allows her to work with even the most challenging animals.
"When I got that pink dot I could have cried," says Bausch, who has two Chihuahuas of her own, Yodi and Minnie. It "was more exciting than any medal I've ever won in cycling,"
That ranking of personal accomplishments could change if Bausch leaves London with a medal. Then again, maybe not, given the send-off she got after a recent shift at the animal shelter when Turk, a handsome 4-year-old German shepherd, bussed her on the forehead.
"I'm a lucky girl," she said with a smile.
Times staff photographer Wally Skalij contributed to this report.