If you're lucky, one day a dog will come into your life and change everything. There's a heart dog out there for everyone, and for Mariesa and Chris Hughes, that dog was a senior shelter dog named Moses. Thanks to him, Mariesa and Chris have gone on to save more than 300 senior shelter dogs. This is that story.
After dedicating their lives to rescuing animals, Mariesa and Chris were no strangers to taking in dogs that needed help. They often pulled dogs out of high-kill shelters to give them more time to find families. When they saw a picture of Moses sitting like a dapper gentleman, they knew right away they needed to help. The senior dog had been passed over again and again, and his time at the shelter was running out. He would have been euthanized, but Mariesa and Chris wouldn't let that happen.
Moses moved in to what was intended to be his temporary foster home. Mariesa's plan was to care for the furry old man until she could find someone to adopt him. It didn't take long, however, for that plan to change.
Mariesa told iHeartDogs,
"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."
It was the definition of a foster fail, and Mariesa, Chris, and Moses couldn't have been more happy. Moses fit into their family as if he was always meant to be there. For two years, their lives were filled with more love and laughter than they ever thought possible. Finding that goofy senior dog at the shelter truly changed their lives, and for two years, they cherished every moment they had together.
Moses was living his golden years with people who loved him, but on Valentine's Day 2014, his family noticed something wasn't right. He kept losing his balance and seemed generally confused and out of sorts. Mariesa and Chris immediately took him to the vet, and after one misdiagnosis, a vet recommended an MRI.
Mariesa and Chris were newlyweds at the time and had seven other dogs to care for. They didn't have money for an expensive MRI, but they also knew Moses meant the world to them. As a solution, the couple sold their hot tub for the exact cost of the procedure. The test results were devastating.
"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 four weeks to live."
Mariesa and Chris were faced with a monumental decision. They knew fighting for Moses wouldn't be easy or affordable. But they also knew their senior dog was part of the family, and they were willing to do everything possible to save his life.
For five weeks, the family tried every treatment in the book. They took both conventional and holistic paths in hopes of finding something to slow the tumor's growth. From acupuncture to drug trials, nothing worked.
After five weeks of fighting and two years of love, Moses passed away at home in the arms of everyone he loved.
His loss shook the family to their core. Their grief put a strain on their marriage, and moving on with their lives seemed impossible. Losing Moses left a heartbreaking hole in their lives, and it seemed like there was nothing they could do about it.
But one day, Chris had an idea. He started talking about starting a senior dog chapter of their rescue that would pay for medical expenses for dogs like Moses. While a good idea on paper, putting it all together sounded crazy. They had just drained their accounts trying to save one senior dog, how could they help others?
Despite the obvious financial challenges, the idea turned into a lifeline. Chris and Mariesa threw everything they had into making it come true. They named their new rescue chapter the Mr. Mo Project, and it grew and grew until it was no longer a dream, but a reality.
Several years later, the Mr. Mo Project successfully provides care for senior dogs in desperate need of love and medical attention. They operate through donations and a network of foster families to change lives in honor of their beloved Moses.
They refuse to see age or cost as a reason to deny a dog treatment. They treat 16-year-old dogs the same way they would a 6-year-old dog, and they only withhold treatment if it would seriously affect quality of life.
The Mr. Mo Project also works with pet owners to help keep families together. Unlike other rescues, they gladly returns dogs (at no cost) if their previous owners are able to get back on their feet. If someone has to surrender a senior dog because they can no longer pay for their medical costs, Chris and Mariesa stay in contact with them in case their situation changes. Their goal is to save lives and keep families together.
Since its conception, the Mr. Mo Project has gone on to save over 300 senior dogs. Every dog becomes part of their family, and in each furry face, they're reminded of Moses. It has been several years since they said goodbye, but Moses lives on in every dog they save.
Learn more about the Mr. Mo Project and support their mission by visiting their website.
All images via Gremlin/Facebook