Service Dog Serves as Best Man at Veteran’s Wedding

service dog serves as veteran's best man

Gabe’s a little hairier than most guys who serve as the best man at weddings.

The 4-year-old Golden Retriever is not only a service dog for U.S. Army veteran Justin Lansford, but he also served as the best man and ring bearer when Lansford married his longtime girlfriend, Carol Balmes, during a ceremony Saturday at the Bayou Club in Largo, Fla.

“I was behind closed doors but from what I could hear, everyone said, ‘Aww,’ kind of simultaneously,” Balmes told Mashable regarding the wedding guests’ reactions to the furry best man.

At the reception afterward, Gabe “made his rounds of visiting all the tables,” Balmes said.

Wedding photographer Brad Hall told USA TODAY Gabe was one of the most cooperative bridal party members he’s ever worked with.

The best man was “easy, quite frankly, a lot easier than we typically see with groomsmen at most weddings,” Hall said.

veteran Justin Lansford with best man service dog Gabe

While on tour in Afghanistan in 2012, Lansford lost his left leg in an IED explosion. Back at home, he was assigned to Gabe, a recent graduate of the nonprofit Warrior Canine Connection, which provides support dogs for wounded veterans to help them cope with injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The less I use my wheelchair, the more I need his help in smaller tasks and the more he is there,” Lansford told ABC News in March 2014. “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.”

With Gabe at his side last year, Lansford proposed to his high-school sweetheart Balmes on — appropriately enough — Veteran’s Day.

To make a donation to help the Warrior Canine Connection train more support dogs, click here.

Photos via Twitter

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!