Around this time seven years ago, Rueben Stringfellow stumbled across a litter of puppies born to a junkyard dog. Then 17, Rueben rescued the only puppy that survived its mother’s neglect.
What sets this puppy apart from others? It was born with just two legs. Stringfellow, now army E-4 specialist, asked his mother, “Can we fix her?” “No, but maybe we can help her,” his mother responded.
This miracle of a puppy was named Faith; a name that she would surely live up to and fulfill graciously. Reuben turned the lab-chow mix over to his mother Jude. It wasn’t long before the family had trained Faith to stand up-right using just some peanut butter and a whole lot of practice.
March 22, 2002 marked Faith’s first steps. Since that day, Faith has made on all mediums, television, radio, and internet. Faith, on average, receives 200 letters and emails per day.
Jude says the most rewarding part of Faith’s appearances is the time spent with injured soldiers. Visiting veterans hits close to home for Stringfellow, since her son Reuben has been in Iraq since September. He is stationed in Alaska and expects to complete his tour January 1st.
The message she sends to veterans is priceless. She has the ability to bring hope into their lives and reflect the miracle she is, on them. This past weekend Faith visited McChord Air Force Base in Fort Lewis, Washington.
Stringfellow tries to explain the experience of bringing Faith to the base, "There is a lot of crying, pointing and surprise. From those who have lost friends or limbs, there can be silence. Some will shake my hand and thank me, some will pat her on the head. There is a lot of quiet, heartfelt, really deep emotion."
The intense emotion that Jude describes is heartening. Veteran hospitals could not benefit enough from Faith’s appearances. Whether patients are suffering from aggressive service-caused illnesses such as mesothelioma or damaging physical effects from the war, Faith teaches, “that it is not the body you are in but the soul that you have,” explains Jill Salomon of Montreal, Canada, a contributor of Faith’s website.
Most of the soldiers have been dealt a tragedy and loose hope and motivation to overcome their unfortunate circumstance. When they are presented with a case like Faith, the wheels start turning. They start thinking about how they can make the impossible possible just like Faith has done. Whether that means walking again or just lifting spirits, Faith the two-legged dog brings an invaluable gift to veterans.