Last week, Blackie's family wrapped their bleeding dog in a garbage bag, placed the bagged pet in a cardboard box, and brought her to a busy Southern California animal shelter.
Kelly Smíšek is founder of Frosted Faces Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2014 that specializes in helping old dogs — the group rescues some 100 canines per year.
After learning that Blackie was in the shelter — in pain and in need of help — there was no way Smíšek was going to let her stay there.
"We rescue the senior animals whose love and lives are left behind and in jeopardy," she told TODAY in an email.
Blackie is about 10 years old, and a small girl — about the size of a corgi — with a white-streaked face that looks happy, despite what she's been through.
Even outside of the bleeding tumor, and the manner in which she was brought to the shelter, there are indications that during her first decade, Blackie hadn't been looked after so well.
Dr. Beth Gordon is a veterinarian at High Valley Veterinary Hospital, in Ramona, California, who examined Blackie after her rescue. Gordon said Blackie has a heart murmur, some scars on her body, one wonky eye and teeth that have been neglected.
Then, of course, there is the tumor, which was big, infected and "very painful" for Blackie, Gordon said. "Someone didn't take very good care of her at all."
That's changed now. Blackie is at Frosted Faces Foundation headquarters, near San Diego.
She is being tended to — and with a lot of love.
Blackie has quickly learned the pleasures of being clean, and of wearing a fresh new collar, eating plenty of good food and resting on soft beds.
Her teeth have been brushed, her nails trimmed and she rolls right over for belly rubs "if you give any indication of wanting to pet her," said Smíšek .
Blackie's had surgery to remove her tumor. And to be safe and make sure no cancer cells were left, most of her tail was also removed.
Biopsies showed that Blackie had been suffering from the sort of cancer that often spreads into a dog's lymph nodes and lungs.
"But diagnostics have proven that it had not yet," said Smíšek. "She has recovered well, the swelling has gone down and she is running around happily."
Soon, Blackie will be running around happily in a home.
Frosted Faces Foundation is sorting through the applications that have been placed by people who want to make sure that Blackie's next act is better than what came before.
Once her stitches come out, and she is medically cleared, Blackie will go to what's called a "forever foster" home. Frosted Faces covers these dogs' medical bills. The foster homes promise to love and care for the dogs for as much time as they've got left.
It's impossible to say how long that could be. Gordon believes Blackie could have another three or four years of life ahead.
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"Certainly enough to have some good times," she said.
As far as Blackie is concerned, the good times began right away, if gently. Smíšek recalls that on Blackie's first night at the Frosted Faces Foundation headquarters, she was let out into the yard for her evening constitutional — then didn't come back in when called.
"We let her out to go potty and didn't see her anywhere," Smíšek said. "She was sleeping on the patio chair in the breeze."