Justin Lansford and his fiancée Carol Balmes got engaged, and Justin knew his closest friend, who happened to be his service dog Gabe, would be his best man.
Justin and Gabe met for the first time in 2012. Justin was a soldier in Afghanistan at the time. Justin’s leg was tragically amputated as a result of an IED. As a result, he returned to the United States.
“I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and we were in eastern Afghanistan in early 2012,” Justin told ABC News. We hit an IED, which completely overturned my car. My left leg had to be amputated because of bilaterally damaged femurs.”
After his military experiences, Justin needed a service dog to help him heal from his PTSD. When he contacted Warrior Canine Connections, he was matched with Gabe, a 2-year-old dog. The two hit it off right away.
“He helps me with a variety of tasks. “As I get to and from the ground, I can use him as a stable surface to rely on,” Justin explained. “If I fall, he’ll come up next to me running, and I’ll be able to push off of him to get up.”
Then, in 2014, Justin proposed to Carol, his long-term girlfriend. With a little help from Gabe, Justin proposed on Veteran’s Day. Carol gladly accepted the offer.
Justin and Carol married in Largo, Florida a year later in 2015, and Gabe was there to walk the bride and groom down the aisle.
Gabe was happy to be by Justin’s side. He had done so much for Justin that it was only reasonable that he should play a key part in one of his most important days.
Gabe was a jack of all trades on that day, including serving as the ring bearer. He performed an excellent job, and the wedding went off without a hitch.
Justin and Carol have been happily married for over four years, and they’ve made many new memories with Gabe by their side. Gabe is still Justin’s service dog, and he has never wavered in his devotion to the veteran.
Justin has recently started fostering pups for the Warrior Canine Connections organization. Justin and Gabe both help in the training and socialization of the puppies in order to prepare them for their forever homes as service dogs for veterans.
Justin and Gabe became particularly attached to a dog named PJ. And, as fate would have it, PJ ended up living across the street from them. Gabe and PJ will now be able to visit one other on a regular basis.
Gabe has been on Justin’s side since the beginning, and he is a clever and loving service dog. These two will undoubtedly be closest friends for a long time.