Mariesa and Chris Hughes have always been dog lovers. But ever since their rescue Moses came into their lives, a special place in their hearts for senior dogs had been opened up.
Moses had been staying in the Seminole County Animal Shelter when the couple first met him, and it was actually Mariesa who first saw him.
“Moses was shared to me on Facebook when his time was up at the Seminole County shelter. His shelter picture was him in front of a white background wearing a tie. He looked like a perfect little gentleman and I knew we needed to save him,” she said.
Moses had been staying in the shelter for longer than he should have. The poor dog has always been overlooked because of his advanced age, and he would often be passed up for his younger peers.
But when the Hughes came to know him, they knew right away that he was one special dog.
After seeing the Facebook post, Mariesa couldn’t bear to think of what may become of Moses if he doesn’t get adopted – she knows that he could be put down if that becomes the case.
So, Mariesa decided to take Moses under the rescue that she had just established. This will give the dog enough time to find his forever family.
However, the Hughes had no inkling that Moses would find a forever home instantly.
The plan was to let Moses stay with them for a while, but the couple never expected that the dog would blend in so well with their family.
“Initially we took him into the rescue group I had started and had planned on him being adopted out. When he arrived at our house he melted right into my pack, it seemed like he had been there for years. A few weeks after he arrived I knew he wasn’t leaving. He was such a special dog, never met a person he didn’t like or a bed he didn’t want to hump. He was a true character!” Mariesa said.
After a few short months, the dog had dug his way deep into Chris and Mariesa’s hearts.
But after two years, a tragic incident would change the course of Moses’ happy life with the Hughes.
In 2014, the couple noticed that something was very wrong with Moses – he couldn’t stay upright at all. The couple rushed him to the vet and there, he was diagnosed with old dog vestibular disorder.
It’s something that would go away in a few days if everything went well, but the couple remained skeptical.
The next day, Chris took Moses to Cornell Companion Animal Hospital, where the vet there recommended that the dog to go through an MRI.
The result revealed Moses’ devastating condition.
“As newlyweds with 8 dogs we didn’t have the funds for an MRI, so we sold our hot tub for the exact cost of it and proceeded with the test. That MRI confirmed what would become our worst nightmare. Moses had an inoperable spinal cord tumor, high up in his spinal cord. It was affecting his front legs but eventually it would affect all of him. The signals from his brain would be unable to pass through such a large mass. They gave him 4 weeks to live.”
Of course, Mariesa and Chris wouldn’t give Moses up without a fight. In the next five weeks, they tried every possible cure that they could find – acupuncture, herbs, etc. But sadly, there was nothing more they could do for their precious dog. Moses eventually passed away.
“In the end, Moses died at home, in our arms listening to us tell him what a brave and wonderful dog he was and how we would never let his life be forgotten,” they said.
Moses’ death left a gaping hole in the couple’s lives. But out of this grief, Chris came up with a beautiful idea that would change the lives of senior dogs like Moses.
Chris thought of starting a senior dog chapter of the rescue and pay for all of their medical expenses.
While Chris had the best intentions at heart, Mariesa was quite doubtful of the idea. She remembered how much money they spent on Moses alone, and she couldn’t see the possibility of taking care of so many senior dogs at once. Nevertheless, Mariesa couldn’t get the crazy thought out of her head – so she took a leap of faith.
That’s when the Mr. Mo Project was launched.
The organization’s mission was to support senior dogs by providing all of their care costs when no one else could pay for it. As it turns out, Chris’ idea wasn’t so farfetched after all – there were many people who were willing to chip in money for the care of these elderly dogs. All medical costs covered by the Mr. Mo Project is entirely funded through donations.
In honor of their beloved Moses’ memory, the Hughes now supports senior dogs that are battling health issues, with the aim of giving them the longest and healthiest lives that they could live.
“We never withhold medical care based on cost, only based on quality of life. We don’t typically do ‘hospice’ care for cancer diagnosis, we treat the cancer if it can be treated. And I think anyone over 70 will agree with me here, age itself is not a disease so let’s stop treating it like it is. Treat a 16 year old dog the same as you would a 6 year old dog. They are no less deserving of love or care.”
Not only does the organization take in surrendered elderly dogs, they also try to help dogs with homes by covering their medical expenses.
“We also take dogs from owners but more than that, we try to keep dogs with their owners. So if someone calls and says they need to rehome their dog because they can’t afford xy and z, we try to work with them so their dog can stay in the home they know with the owner they love and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation,” the couple said.
Chris and Mariesa’s worlds shattered when they lost Moses, but through the Mr. Mo Project, they were able to find healing through the unconditional love that they receive from the hundreds of senior dogs that they have rescued.
Visit their Facebook Page.