After Justin Lansford and his girlfriend Carol Balmes got engaged, Justin knew that his best friend was going to be his best man – and that happened to be his service dog Gabe.
Justin and Gabe first met in 2012. Back then, Justin was a soldier serving in Afghanistan. Tragically, Justin suffered a lost of his leg due to an IED. This caused him to return to the United States.
Justin told ABC News, “I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and we were in eastern Afghanistan in early 2012. We struck an IED and it flipped my truck completely. I had bilaterally severed femurs which resulted in the amputation of my left leg.”
Justin ended up requiring a service dog to help him recover from his PTSD following his wartime experiences. He reached out to Warrior Canine Connections, and that is when he was paired up with 2-year-old Gabe. The pair hit it off immediately.
“He helps me with one thing to the next. I can use him as a stable surface to lean on, as I get to and from the ground,” Justin said. “If I fall, he’ll come up running next to me and I can use him to push off of to get up off the ground.”
Then in 2014, Justin decided to propose to his long-time girlfriend Carol. Justin popped the question on Veteran’s Day with a little help from Gabe. Carol happily accepted.
A year later in 2015, Justin and Carol married in Largo, Florida and Gabe attended – walking both bride and groom down the aisle.
Justin was thrilled to have Gabe by his side. He had done so much for Justin, that it was only natural that he have an important role in one of the biggest days in his life.
Gabe was a dog of many trades that day, serving as the ring bearer as well. He did a fantastic job, and the wedding ceremony went off without a hitch.
Justin and Carol have now been happily married for nearly four years – creating tons of new memories along the way and with Gabe by their side. Gabe is still a service dog for Justin, and he has never faltered in his dedication to the veteran.
Justin has also begun fostering puppies for Warrior Canine Connections. Both Justin and Gabe help to train and socialize the puppies in order to get them ready for their forever homes helping veterans.
Both Justin and Gabe got particularly close to one puppy named PJ. And as luck would have it, PJ ended up moving into a home across the street from them. Now Gabe and PJ can see each other on a regular basis.
Gabe is a smart and loving service dog who has been by Justin’s side since day one. We have no doubt that these two will be best friends for a while.
If you want to learn more about Justin, Carol, and Gabe on the big day, watch the video below: