CRIMORA, Va. — Teresa Perkins was driving 80 mph along a Virginia highway on Wednesday.. She knew she was going too fast, but it was her only hope. Her dog, Jett, was dying in the backseat.
About a half hour earlier, Perkins had received a call from her daughter, who had been playing fetch with Jett, a 3-year-old, 120-pound black German Shepard. The ball they were playing with got lodged in Jett's throat. The dog was struggling to breathe.
Perkins raced home to see if she could help, but the dog slobber had made the ball too slippery to pull out by hand. They put the dog in the backseat of her car and began their race to the veterinarian's office.
About halfway there, Perkins got caught in construction traffic. Jett was struggling even more by that point and Perkins knew she only had minutes, but she was now stopped in a line of cars.
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She began blowing her horn to get the attention of someone, anyone, and that's when three construction workers approached her vehicle. In a panicked voice, she told them her dog was dying.
"By then my dog was pretty much dead," Perkins said. "He was laying in the car, not moving. I had heard him breathe, like gasping, but then he quit. I was frantically crying and praying."
Cavaja Holt was one of the workers standing there. He stuck his hand down the limp dog's throat and pulled out the ball, but Jett still wasn't breathing.
"And the guy behind [Holt] was like, 'Breathe in his mouth, breathe in his mouth,'" Perkins said. "And he did."
Perkins jumped out of the car and started doing chest compressions on Jett. The two were working together to save the dog's life when Holt yelled, "He's awake."
Perkins began crying and thanking Holt over and over.
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"He would have died if I didn't stop," Perkins said. "He would have been dead. If I had driven 10 more minutes, he wouldn't have made it."
Once Jett began breathing again, Perkins continued her trip to the vet and, by the time she arrived, the dog seemed to be doing much better. The staff at Animal Health Care Center in Waynesboro was expecting them and eight people ran out to help Jett.
She recounted the story to the staff and one person said, "Wow, the world is still good."
After about a five-minute wait in the parking lot, Jett was feeling good enough to walk from the car to the vet's office. The staff checked him out and let him go home.
Immediately after Holt had saved Jett, Perkins was so frantic she forgot to ask his name. Later that night, one of her daughters, Bliss Nuckols, posted the story on Facebook, asking to locate Holt.
Meanwhile, Holt had also posted the story, hoping to find out how the dog was doing. Within minutes, someone connected the two.
On Thursday morning, Perkins drove back to the construction site and thanked Holt again. She also got a photo of him with the dog.
"The man is truly a hero," Perkins said. "I am so thankful for him."
Jett is doing fine, Perkins said, almost like nothing ever happened.
"He's doing great," she said. "But he is never, ever, ever, ever going to get a ball again."