If you've seen our regular in-studio shows, then you'll likely recognize our audience warm-up artist, Joey Kola. Joey is an incredible comedian who can bring a smile to anyone's face — and he's back to share much-needed good news stories in a new segment we're calling "Joe and Tell."
"We're going to bring positive news about humans, about animals and about anything positive we can bring to this planet right now. People need it and we're going to provide it," Joey says.
For his inaugural "Joe and Tell," Joey is sharing the amazing story of Chris and Mariesa Hughes, a newly married couple who run a senior dog rescue called The Mr. Mo Project. Chris and Mariesa currently house 20 dogs of their own and help with 106 senior dogs in foster homes.
The Mr. Mo Project began when Chris adopted a senior pit bull named Moses, who had been surrendered to a shelter because of his age. Chris and Mariesa had Moses for about a year-and-a-half when they noticed his backend was starting to get a little weak. "He needed an MRI done, so we sold our hot tub for the exact amount we needed to get that MRI done," Chris says.
"He was such a special dog and he just melted into our hearts and our home. We did all sorts of acupuncture, herbs and oils and love until he passed away five weeks later," Mariesa continues.
"Once he passed away, it hit both of us and I remember driving down the road and I looked over at Mariesa and said, 'We should start saving senior dogs and pay for all their medical expenses,'" Chris explains.
When Chris and Mariesa met, they already had eight dogs between them. "We knew we were going to have a lot of dogs in our life. So we wanted a house all on one floor, to not have to worry about too many stairs. And then we just started outfitting it to do what was necessary for the dogs that we had," Chris explains. The newlyweds put ramps in the front and back of their house, added special tiles throughout the home for the dogs that have issues with traction, installed oxygen tanks and kennels and even have a suction unit and a hydrotherapy unit within their home.
"We at our house have the harder cases, I would think, so we keep the dogs that are more medically challenged or behaviorally challenged," Mariesa says. Right now, they have an 18-year-old dog who gets fluids every day and a 3-week old pitbull puppy with a cleft palate. "I sleep on the couch and every two hours we wake up and tube feed her," Chris says.
"We had a giant bed built when we had eight dogs," Mariesa adds. Now that they have 20 dogs, the couple pushed two king-sized beds together to accommodate everyone.
As for the 106 senior dogs in foster homes, "We cover those dogs financially for the rest of their lives," Chris says. "By taking care of the medical and the financial side, that opened up so many homes and we've been incredibly blessed to find the foster homes we have."
The pair says they spend about $40,000 to $45,000 a month on the dogs in foster homes. Luckily, they've been able to raise some of that money thanks to the kindness of others. "We had $10,000 we needed to raise for a vet bill and we decided to raffle off the ring that I got [Mariesa] for our wedding," Chris recalls. "We raised a little more than we needed to and incredibly the person that won it said absolutely not, you're not going to give that away. So she still gets to wear it."
Thanks to Chris and Mariesa and The Mr. Mo Project, hundreds and hundreds of older dogs have been saved from being put down in shelters so they can live out the rest of their days in a loving home setting. "It's like a proud parent moment when you realize that your kid has done all of this," Mariesa says about their late dog Moses inspiring the project. "It's hard to talk about him and everything that he's done. We just miss him," she says through tears.
Thanks to our new friends at Petplan Pet Insurance, Joey got to share even more good news — this time with Chris and Mariesa. They're getting $10,000 from Petplan to help care for senior dogs in need. ❤️ 🐾