- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES | For several years, Jude Stringfellow and her Lab-chow mix have toured the country with a simple message: Faith walks.

Born without front legs to a junkyard dog around Christmas 2002, Faith the puppy was rejected and abused by her mother. She was rescued by Reuben Stringfellow, now an Army E-4 specialist, who had been asked to bury other puppies in the litter.

“Can we fix her?” Spc. Stringfellow, then 17, asked his mom. “No, but maybe we can help her,” she said.

So Spc. Stringfellow turned Faith over to his mother and English professor Mrs. Stringfellow. At first the family had to carry Faith to keep her off her chest and chin. But with peanut butter and practice, Faith learned to walk on her two hind legs.

Since that day on March 22, 2003, Faith has done the talk-show circuit, gone on tour with rocker Ozzy Osbourne and been named an honorary Army sergeant. Mrs. Stringfellow has become a motivational speaker, written two books about Faith and is working on a third, “Faith Walks.”

They get more than 200 letters and e-mails a day, run a Web site and make dozens of appearances every year, including stops at veterans’ hospitals across the country to cheer injured soldiers.

That mission is special for Mrs. Stringfellow, whose son left Iraq in September and is stationed in Alaska. He is scheduled to get out of the Army and head home Jan. 1.

For many, Faith brings a powerful message about overcoming adversity. “Faith has shown me that different is beautiful, that it is not the body you are in but the soul that you have,” Jill Salomon of Montreal wrote on Faith’s Web site.

Mrs. Stringfellow will never forget a woman from New York who happened to see Faith on a street corner. She was depressed and had lost both legs to diabetes.

“She was in her wheelchair and saw us. She was crying. She had seen Faith on television. She just held her and said she wished she had that kind of courage,” Mrs. Stringfellow said. “She told us: ‘I was on my way to pick up the gun.’ She handed the pawn ticket to a police officer and said she didn’t need it anymore.”

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