But this dog story is really special. Meet Faith, the bi-ped dog.
Faith was born with two deformed front legs, left to die and rescued by a little boy whose heart was full of love for her at first sight. He took her home and he and his family taught the pup to survive and thrive. She walks on her hind legs, human-style, and her story now inspires people around the globe.
I recently talked with Faith’s owner, Jude Stringfellow. Here is her story — Faith’s story:
Jeanne Huff: Jude, first of all, can you give us a kind of mini-bio on Faith?
Jude Stringfellow: Faith was born just before Christmas in 2002 and was found as well as rescued by my son Reuben. Faith’s mother dog was putting her down naturally because she couldn’t suckle and she was being abused by her siblings for milk.
Reuben didn’t like what he was seeing and brought her home to me. We began immediately to teach and train Faith to walk upright when the vet asked us to get her off of her chest.
She has become an international success and celebrity, not only for walking upright, but for her work with the military. She is an ambassador, really — and is an honorary E5 Sgt. in the U.S. Army now. She will star in her first film this year. It is a feature about her life. It is titled “FAITH” (working title).
JH: You helped Faith learn how to “walk.” Can you tell us about that training? What did you use to entice her? How long did it take? How did you help her overcome her initial frustration?
JS: Our family used so many things to try and entice Faith to walk. She wanted to scoot, and she wanted to stay down on the ground and roll around. We put her on a skateboard and showed her what it was like to move. She didn’t like it. We put her on roller skates, too. She didn’t like that much, either.
We found that food (very basic to anyone and dogs too) is a great motivator. She did want to sit up for peanut butter.
She would come to us if we held it out to her, and we held it just above her nose so she would have to try hard to get it. It wasn’t easy, but she did learn to put one foot in front of the other, and she balanced by bending over and adjusting and she swings her tail from side to side to balance as well.
JH: Since Faith learned to overcome her adversities, what has she been doing?
JS: Faith learned to walk upright and made a few heads turn because of it. We trained her to be a hospital and nursing home therapy dog, and she did that for a while.
She began going to Army medical facilities and making everyone happy there, too. She actually became an Honorary E5 Sgt. in the Army and now she can visit any base anywhere and be a great inspiration. She has been on many television shows and is going to be starring in her first feature film this year. It is currently titled “FAITH.”
JH: When Faith is relaxing, what are her favorite pastimes?
JS: Faith loves to chase anything. She runs squirrels up trees, chases ducks into the water, and dives under the bed for chewbones. She won’t catch anything she can’t eat. If you throw her something she can not eat she lets it hit the ground.
She loves to travel and loves to meet soldiers in the USOs and on bases. She’s always been a little skittish of men, but not if they are wearing a uniform from the Army, Marines, or Air Force. She’s not used to the Navy and Coast Guard quite yet.
JH: Does Faith have any favorite food?
JS: Her favorite foods are: peanut butter, gummi bears, cheese and meat.
JH: Because she does walk upright on her hind legs, does Faith have any trouble with her legs or hips? Does she do any special exercises to help?
JS: She has NO problems with her hips, as her joints, ligaments and every muscle surrounding her hips and joints actually grew as she did. She’s fine.
We’ll start her on a preventative when she’s been examined and the doctors think it is necessary. She has a normal life expectancy.
JH: Faith has also been featured on Oprah and has become an internet sensation. What’s on board for the future?
JS: She has been on Oprah, and she’s going to be on it again when our movie is completed. She’ll be in the movie “FAITH” and of course we have book rights to the film. I could use a book deal if you know anyone! Thanks. I’m thinking childrens books, coloring books, all sorts of fun stuff with Faith being a super hero and Army Sgt.
JH: People are currently facing some hard times. Layoffs. Foreclosures. A down economy. How can Faith’s experience help take the edge off?
JS: People with anything bad going on in their lives can look at Faith and see that she’s a dog, a normal dog, and that she was put at a natural disadvantage. However, they can also see that with help, (and you have to be willing to accept that help) she has become not only a famous dog, but a dog with the power inside herself to motivate, empower, find pleasure, be normal, have fun, and just depend on those around you — as well as being willing to give back to those who need your courage at certain times. All things are possible.
JH: Anything else you’d like to say?
JS: Anything else? Well, Faith is 6-years old and will do this movie, a few more tours, and probably retire at the age of 10 or so. We don’t want to overload her on work.
Our dog Matrix is almost 10 and going strong — so we’ll wait and see what happens. She’ll be smiling for years to come and this movie will allow her to be seen smiling forever!