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Found a solution to this. I was able to load the object if I spawned it in my world.launch file with the following code,

  <param name="sphere" command="$(find xacro)/xacro.py '/opt/ros/fuerte/stacks/simulator_gazebo/gazebo_worlds/objects/simple_sphere.xacro'" /> 
  <node name="sphere_model" pkg="gazebo" type="spawn_model" args="-urdf -param sphere -model sphere1 -paused=true -x -.5 -y -.5 -z 1 " respawn="false" output="screen" />