LARGO, Florida (KTVU) - A wounded Veteran married the love of his life over the weekend, and his loyal therapy dog 'Gabe' stood by his side as best ‘man.’
Justin Lansford and Carol Balmes first met during high school in Georgia when they worked at a café together. The two quickly became friends. It wasn’t until after Lansford’s first deployment that they started dating.
In April of 2012 Balmes was at college when she received devastating news. Lansford was in a truck that hit an IED. Lansford ended up needing to have his leg amputated.
That’s when Gabe became part of their family.
Balmes tells KTVU Gabe, the service dog from Warrior Canine Connection, is the sweetest, happiest dog. She says he just wants to play and loves attention.
Gabe helps Lansford around the house on a daily basis. The four-year-old dog can open and close doors, retrieve objects, and even get drinks from the refrigerator.
Carol says the ‘brace’ command is the one her husband uses the most. If he's feeling unsteady, Gabe will nudge up to him to offer support.
Lansford decided to include Gabe in his proposal. It was just a typical day at the dog park when Gabe brought Balmes a ring in a box. A GoPro video recorded the special moment.
Of course she said 'yes' and the couple began planning their wedding. She says they never questioned including Gabe in the ceremony as best ‘man’ – it was always a given.
Gabe proudly wore a dress uniform filled with Lansford’s medals as the couple said 'I do' in Florida.