Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend… but sometimes, they are more than that: they are your godfather.
That was the case for a veteran and his beloved service dog, who have such an unbreakable bond that when his wedding day came, he had to involve his dog in a special way.
Justin Lansford is a US Army Veteran from Silver Spring, Maryland. In 2012, he was sent as a paratrooper to Afghanistan and had an accident.
“We hit an improvised explosive device and it flipped my truck over,” Justin told ABC News. “I had bilaterally amputated femurs which resulted in the amputation of my left leg.”
But while he was recovering in the hospital, Justin had an opportunity that would change his life. A group called Warrior Canine Connections matches wounded service members with support dogs.
Justin was paired with a golden retriever named Gabe.
Gabe was invaluable in helping Justin readjust after losing his leg.
“The less I use my wheelchair, the more I need his help on smaller tasks and the more he is there,” Justin said. “It’s been very comforting to know that.”
“He helps me from one thing to the next. I can use it as a stable surface to lean on, while getting on and off the ground. If I fall, he will run up next to me and I can use him to push myself up off the ground.”
But Gabe did more than just help him. He quickly proved to be a source of emotional support and friendship.
“Since day one, we’ve been joined at the hip,” Justin told the New York Daily News. “He is there for me all day, every day.”
The dog had a huge impact not only on Justin, but also on his girlfriend Carol, who worked for Warrior Canine Connections and knew of the deep connection they shared.
“You have to make sure that a support dog is always happy and that he will love the person that he is with forever,” Carol told Buzzfeed. “By the time Justin walked into the room when they met, Gabe was tossing and crying and rolling on the floor.”
So when Justin and Carol got married in 2015, it seemed only right that Gabe be a part of the ceremony.
But while some people have his dogs act as ring bearers or just guests, Justin wanted his beloved dog by his side on his big day and gave her a place of honor: best man. the.
“He goes where I go,” Justin told the Daily News. “He certainly is there to lift me up emotionally when I need him. Why would the wedding be any different?
The bride certainly had no objection to Justin’s unique choice.
“Justin and Gabe go everywhere together and our wedding didn’t feel like it was a different occasion,” Carol said. “He is a big part of our life and he deserves to share the moment with us.”
“It was great having him by my side,” Justin said.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye at that point. It was a pretty constant ‘aww’ throughout the wedding.”
Your wedding is a very special day, a time when you want to be surrounded by the friends and family who have supported you the most.
It seems natural for Gabe to be the center of his big day.
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