Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 30, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Blackie

Blackie, who saved the lives of many young ones, passed away Tuesday at age 14

JACKSONVILLE — Make no bones about it: Blackie was a hero.

Valiant, tough as nails, and nurturing to young ones, he was a symbol of strength who often gave the gift of life. His contributions invaluable, Blackie ultimately saved a lot of little lives. A LOT.

He donated blood directly from his carotid artery to smaller patients whenever needed. A universal donor, he gave without hesitation or fear.

Weighing under 100 pounds, Blackie often was called upon to help save victims of car rollovers who had lost a lot of blood.

When he wasn't saving their lives, Blackie acted as mentor to the little ones — providing both love and comfort to frightened, tiny orphans in need.

Blackie was a dog.

A lab mix to be precise.

This protective 14-year-old pooch – 98 in dog years – passed away Tuesday morning at Jacksonville's Animal Medical Clinic, his home for roughly the past 10 years.

He first was brought there as a stray. But it soon was discovered the strong animal was an excellent blood donor. Experts say dogs can have as many as 1,200 blood types.  

In a previous interview, Dr. Ira Stephens said the blood transfusion process is the same with dogs as with humans. The only pain the dog might feel is one as painful as tap on the shoulder.

"I like to think so," said Kristen Scogin, a vet tech at the clinic. "He never seemed to be bothered by the transfusions."

It didn't take long for the heroic hound to became accustomed to the blood donating process, which involved sedation, a needle into the vein and withdrawal.

The 68.9-pound Blackie quickly became fast friends with everyone, part of the identity of the clinic.

But, even more, Blackie  became the guardian of the veterinary dog house. When people would bring in puppies that needed homes, they were put with Blackie, who would watch over and take care of them.

But recently, the past couple of weeks, sweet Blackie  started to succumb to his advanced age. He clearly was suffering and became unresponsive.

"We tried to make him as comfortable as possible, but we knew he was nearing the end," Scogin said.

On Tuesday, Blackie's time had come. With great sadness and much love and respect, the staff of Animal Medical Clinic reluctantly euthanized him.

It was heartbreaking.

Blackie clearly had a firm place in the hearts of staff members, who both adored and admired him.

"We got so attached to him," said Deborah Helms, vet tech for Animal Medical Clinic. "We didn't want to bury him because we would never have seen him again. So we had him cremated and placed him in a box urn. His picture will go on the urn."

At the request of the clinic, the Jacksonville Daily Progress provided them with a photo of Blackie to use as a stencil of sorts for the image placed on the urn.

Jackie was unique in the regard in which he was held by the clinic. The only other animal to whom the staff members – which includes five employees – became attached was a precious cat named Tigger. Tigger was so beloved, an employee insisted on burial in her backyard.

Blackie leaves behind no family – other than the employees of the clinic and the tiny pups who he mentored.

"Blackie will be so hard to replace," Helms said. "We really loved him and thank him for his service. He will really be missed."

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