Everyone knows that a man’s best buddy is a dog… But they can also be more: they can be your best guy.
That was the case for one soldier and his beloved service dog, who have such an unshakable bond that he had to include his dog in a special way at his wedding.
Justin Lansford is a Silver Spring, Maryland-based US Army veteran. He was deployed to Afghanistan as a paratrooper in 2012 and was injured in the process.
“We struck an IED and it flipped my truck completely,” Justin told ABC News. “I had bilaterally severed femurs which resulted in the amputation of my left leg.”
However, while recuperating in the hospital, Justin was presented with an opportunity that would forever transform his life. Warrior Canine Connections matches wounded servicemen with assistance dogs.
Justin was matched with Gabe, a golden retriever.
Gabe was a huge help in getting Justin back on his feet after he lost his leg.
“The less I use my wheelchair, the more I need his help in smaller tasks and the more he is there,” Justin said. “It has been very comforting to know that.”
“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. 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.”
Gabe, on the other hand, did more than just assist him. He soon established himself as a reliable source of emotional support and companionship.
“Since day one, we’ve been joined to the hip,” Justin told the New York Daily News. “He’s there for me all day, every day.”
Not only did the dog have an affect on Justin, but it also had an impact on his longtime girlfriend Carol, who worked with Warrior Canine Connections and was aware of their strong bond.
“You have to make sure a support dog is always happy and that they’ll love the person they’re with forever,” Carol told Buzzfeed. “The second Justin walked into the room when they met, Gabe was wiggling, crying, and rolling on the floor.”
When Justin and Carol married in 2015, it was only natural for Gabe to be present at the ceremony.
However, although some people have their dogs serve as ring carriers or just as guests, Justin wanted his beloved dog to be by his side on his special day, so he made him his best man.
“He goes everywhere I go,” Justin told the Daily News. “He’s certainly there to pick me up emotionally when I need it. Why would the wedding be any different?”
The bride certainly had no objections to Justin’s unique choice.
“Justin and Gabe go everywhere together and our wedding did not seem like it should be any different of an occasion,” Carol said. “He is a huge part of our life and deserves to share in the moment with us.”