This story shows how deep our relationships with animals can really be. Sometimes they’re more than just pets—they’re our best friend.
Everyone is aware that dogs are a man’s best friend, but occasionally they may also be your best man.
In the instance of one veteran and his devoted service dog, who share such a strong bond that when it came to his wedding day, the veteran made sure to include his dog in special ways.
A veteran of the US Army from Silver Spring, Maryland, Justin Lansford had an accident while serving as a paratrooper in Afghanistan in 2012.
“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.”
But Justin received a chance that would alter the course of his life while he was recuperating in the hospital. Warrior Canine Connections matches service members who have been injured with assistance animals.
Gabe, a golden retriever, was assigned to Justin. Justin needed help readjusting after losing his leg, and Gabe was a huge help.
“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 to get up off the ground.”
However, Gabe went above and beyond to assist him. He quickly established himself as a friend and a source of comfort.
“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.”
The dog had a profound effect on Justin as well as on his longtime girlfriend Carol, who worked with Warrior Canine Connections and was aware of their close 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.”
Therefore, it seemed only fitting for Gabe to attend Justin & Carol’s wedding in 2015 to be a part of the event.
However, Justin wanted his cherished dog by his side on his special day and gave him a place of honor: his best man. While some people use their pets as ring carriers or just as guests, Justin wanted his dog by his side on his big day.
“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 lives and deserves to share at the moment with us.”
“It was really cool to have him right by me,” Justin said.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye at that point. It was a pretty steady ‘aww’ throughout the entire wedding.”
Your wedding is a unique occasion, and you want to spend it with the people who have helped you the most.
Gabe’s presence in the center of their special day seems only natural.