Meet Faith the Two-Legged Dog

updated 09/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The first time Caity Stringfellow laid eyes on Faith, she doubted the 3-week-old pup would survive the night. The full-blooded mutt was missing one front leg while the other was deformed, and her mother—a friend's dog—had been trying to smother her when Caity's brother Reuben plucked Faith from the litter. The Stringfellows rushed the pup to a vet who suggested euthanasia. Instead, the family took her back home. "She was tiny and adorable," says Caity, a model. "She had this expression that said, 'Help me.'"

After Faith's deformed leg was amputated because it had begun to atrophy, Caity, her mom and two siblings took around-the-clock shifts nursing her to health. Then came the next challenge: The dog couldn't survive groveling on the floor, so they enticed her to rise by holding up spoonfuls of a favorite treat, peanut butter. Soon she sat up. Then, one day, she walked. "We all went crazy," says Caity's mom, Jude Stringfellow, 46, a high school teacher. "It was like watching your child take its first steps."

Before long, the furry biped, now 5, was chasing geese at the park. Faith now accompanies Jude on motivational talks to veterans' hospitals. "When people see her," says Jude, "they often break into tears. They realize that if Faith can do this, there's nothing they can't accomplish."

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