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Pets

Faith beats the odds

By Dr Chris Brown The courage of a two-legged dog stuns veterinary science and helps inspire people. Meet Faith, a dog I came face-to-face with on a trip to the Midwest US state of Oklahoma. Faith is no ordinary dog. This Chow-Labrador cross has fascinated the world and become a celebrity. E-mails, websites, television shows and an upcoming movie have all documented her incredible rise to become one of the most recognisable dogs in the world. Oprah Winfrey has even featured Faith on her show ? twice!
Faith was born with just two hind legs, which she uses to walk (and even run) like a human. That this beautiful two-legged dog is alive at all is nothing short of a miracle. It's a feat that may even change what the veterinary world sees as being possible. Faith was rescued by the Stringfellow family four years ago, after being abandoned. She was a malnourished puppy with days to live. However, Jude Stringfellow saw something in her eyes that inspired her ? and a partnership was born between the two-legged puppy and a woman determined to prove people around her wrong, including those who suggested Faith be put to sleep. "I saw a look in her eyes that seemed to be a plea for help," says Jude, who has written books about Faith called With A Little Faith and Faith Alone: Stories of an Amazing Dog (both available at Amazon.com). "She had pride and determination. I really wanted to give her a chance." As Faith grew, she learnt to move about as best she could by pushing herself along the floor. "The vet told me that if she continued to drag her body along like that, it would cause her to graze her chest and the wound would become infected," Jude says. The bottom line was that if Faith didn't stand up, she would certainly not survive. Teaching her to raise herself up on her two legs was no easy feat, but one thing Faith had was a healthy appetite. She loved peanut butter and would do anything for it. Jude began offering spoonfuls to her, keeping it just out of her reach, until Faith grew strong enough to stand up. It took eight months, but the result is truly amazing. Faith seems to relish every unbelievable step she takes, and that tail of hers never stays still. It almost propels her around through its fits of excitement-induced flapping! Faith is a wonderful creature to meet, and the reactions of people really moved me, too. Her triumph against the odds has bemused some and amused others, but many more people are inspired. They realise that if a dog with two legs and little chance of life can lift herself up, maybe they can, too. Not a bad effort for a dog! Faith's story appears on Talk To The Animals: Believe It Or Not, which screens on the Nine Network on Saturday, December 9 at 7.30pm. Watch video of Faith's amazing ability. Check out Faith's website. See this week's issue of Woman's Day for our amazing story about Tahi, the Kiwi with a prosthetic leg.

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