Darcy the French bulldog is no stranger to flying. She and her two canine siblings take to the skies often.
"The pups are great and know the drill and get excited to travel," says Darcy's owner, Michele Burt.
But on a flight from their Florida home to their house in Massachusetts, Darcy began pushing her head against the mesh sides of her carrier, showing signs of distress. When Burt opened the flap to give the pup some air, she realized Darcy's tongue was blue. Knowing that is a sign of hypoxia — meaning the dog wasn't getting enough oxygen — Burt took Darcy from her carrier and sat her on her lap to cool down and relax, hoping that would calm her breathing.
When a flight crew member politely came to tell her that pets had to remain in carriers, Burt apologized and pointed out that Darcy appeared to be in medical distress.
Soon, two crew members from the JetBlue flight were at Darcy's side to offer help. Renaud Fenster and Diane Asher first brought ice bags hoping to cool off the dog. The color returned to her tongue, but she was still panting.
Fenster, who said he also had a French bulldog named Penelope, then brought a small oxygen tank with a mask. Burt placed the mask over Darcy's nose and mouth and, within just a few minutes, she became alert and began to feel better.
"I applied the mask to her face and it really was almost an immediate response; her eyes opened wider and it was just apparent that it was effective," Burt told MNN. "They also were starting their descent so that aided in the recovery process as well."
Look for the helpers
"I believe Renaud and Diane saved a life, some may reduce the value of the life because Darcy is a canine, I do not," Burt wrote in a letter to a crew member friend, hoping she would share it on an internal message board. The letter was shared on Facebook by a crew member of another airlines and images of Darcy in her oxygen mask have spread across social media.
Burt quotes Fred Rogers who said his mother told him, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
"Renaud [Fenster] and Diane Asher were the helpers today. It may have been only a 'dog' to some, not a major disaster certainly, but a family member to us. Goodness and kindness along with the ability to assess a medical crisis, albeit a canine in crisis, saved the day."
Darcy has since recovered, and Burt says she won't fly with her again without her vet's OK.
Burt thanked JetBlue and the crew members and said, "In a time when the news cycle is so negative and divisive, it helps to be reminded that good people are doing good things on a daily basis even if it is in small ways or big ways."