Couple Saves Over 300 Dogs to Honor Their Dog

Mariesa and Chris Hughes first saw Moses at the Seminole County Animal Shelter years ago. Little did they know the impact this sweet dog would have on not just their lives, but hundreds of dogs to come. Moses was a senior dog that had been passed over dozens of times, but the Hughes' saw how adorable he was and decided to take him in with hopes of finding him a family before time ran out. 

“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!" Mariesa describes.

He was a perfect fit in their family. Unfortunately, two years into being adopted, he began to show his age with medical issues popping up. He began to lose his balance and was diagnosed with old dog vestibular disorder. The Hughes' had a gut feeling that something else was going on and decided to take him to Cornell Companion Animal Hospital where an MRI was suggested.

“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," says Hughes.

“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," continued Hughes. 

Hughes described his impact saying, "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.”

During the grieving process, inspiration struck! "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!”

From here, the Mr. Mo Project was born! Hughes says, “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 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 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.”

The project has now saved the lives of over 300 dogs nationwide! If you would like to support the Mr. Mo Project, visit their website or Facebook to learn more!


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