Many of us have been lucky enough to have a dog come into our lives and change it for the better. But for a dog to touch hundreds of lives? That’s something really special.
Moses was a dog like that. He was at the Seminole County Animal Shelter the first time Mariesa and Chris Hughes saw him. Time was running out for Moses – as a senior shelter dog, he had been passed over by potential adopters over and over again. But the Hughes saw something special in the old man.
“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.”
They decided to take him in to rescue with the intention of buying him time to find his family, but he found it much sooner than she had hoped!
“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 their 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!”
Moses fit like a missing puzzle piece and spent the next several months carving out a special place in their home and hearts. But only two short years later his health took a turn, and Mariesa and Chris knew that their time with Moses was coming to an end.
On the night of Valentine’s Day 2014, the Hughes noticed Moses seemed out of sorts, and was losing his balance. They immediately took him to a veterinarian who diagnosed him with old dog vestibular disorder – a condition that can resolve itself in a few days if it doesn’t get worse. However, Mariesa and Chris had a feeling that something more was going on.
The very next day Chris drove Moses to the Cornell Companion Animal Hospital, where they suggested an MRI.
“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.”
Mariesa and Chris didn’t want to let Moses go. Their finances took a serious hit as they fought to save him, but the cost was nothing in the face of losing a member of their family.
“In the next 5 weeks, we trialed every drug we could find. Acupuncture, herbs – we drove our neurologist crazy.
“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.”
Moses passed only two years after joining their family. The impact was incredible. They knew he was old when he was adopted, but the loss still shook them both.
“Losing Moses put such a strain on our marriage, our hearts and our house, we honestly didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Moses was almost like another person in our house, he was chatty and silly and loving, he was the gentleman of the pack. It was a really tough loss for all of us.”
The loss was hard, but from grief came inspiration.
“So one day when Chris and I were driving down the road he said ‘we should start a senior dog chapter of the rescue and pay all of their medical expenses.’
“This idea to me was a little crazy knowing how much money we had just gone through with Moses but he kept talking about it, saying that so many seniors are surrendered to shelters because their care becomes costly or they need vetting that owners can’t afford. So we should cover that cost and find them great homes without the worry of money. Again, lovely idea but how on earth does it make sense?! It doesn’t!”
Chris’ idea was beautiful – but it was also crazy! Good medical care doesn’t come cheap, and to take on multiple senior dogs would be a huge strain. Still, the idea took root, and once it did, it grew and grew until it became reality. The Mr. Mo Project was born!
The Mr. Mo Project helps provide care for senior dogs in need. Through donations, they’re able to help cover the medical expenses of old pups. This allows a network of loving fosters to pull senior dogs from shelters to spend the rest of their lives in the comfort of a real home without worrying about the cost of care! And just like they did for Moses, they fight the battle for every dog that comes their way.
“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.”
“We have been impacted and hopefully made an impact on situations where dogs have been abused and owners arrested. We go to court for the victim, which is now our dog.”
This incredible organization is also helping keep families together. The medicine, frequent office visits and procedures dogs might need as they age can cost thousands of dollars. Some people have surrendered their seniors to the Mr. Mo Project because they trust the organization to care for their pets the way they would. When the surrender is made out of love, the Hughes will allow the original owner to reclaim their pet when they can.
“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.
“We have both been impacted and made an impact on the lives of people who have lost their home for whatever reason. We were able to get their pets into foster care and in 2 circumstances reunite them with their owners when they got back on their feet. So this rescue not only saves dogs, it’s saved some people and it saved us.”
Losing Moses really tested the Hughes’ marriage. But now they live with a pack of rescues that is frequently changing, and they’re doing it together.
“We try to promise each other we won’t bring anymore home but the dogs we keep at our house are the ones that are too sick, time consuming, unsocial, or with a medical condition that requires frequent vet visits, medication or care. We have a pack of misfits, they make messes, wake us up at night, crack us up during the day and love us more than we deserve. We wouldn’t trade any of them for all the money in the world.”
Moses has been gone for a few years now, but he left behind a legacy that has saved the lives of over 300 dogs. Thanks to him and the idea he inspired, many old shelter dogs passed in a home with someone who genuinely loved them and will remember them. Through Chris and Mariesa, Moses will give many more the chance as the Mr. Mo Project continues.
You can help provide care and comfort for dogs who are in the twilight of their lives by supporting The Mr. Mo Project. You can apply to foster and give a senior dog the gift of a loving home and heart. Their efforts rely on donations, but you can also contribute by shopping with their business partners or checking out their dogs’ individual Amazon wish lists! Learn more by visiting the Mr. Mo Project online!
Featured Photo: @GremlintheTherapyDog/Facebook
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