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Local pup's braces go viral

Marie Havenga • Mar 2, 2016 at 8:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — Wesley was an ordinary golden retriever puppy with bad teeth, until he got braces and fame found him.

After Dr. James Moore, owner of Harborfront Hospital for Animals in Spring Lake, fitted Wesley for braces less than two weeks ago, the dog’s cute mug has been making the rounds on social media — totally viral — and attracting loads of traditional media in the process.

Wesley appeared Tuesday morning on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,” and his owner — Dr. Moore's daughter, Molly Moore of Nunica — said she's been contacted by “hundreds” of media outlets in recent days.

“It has been very crazy,” said Molly, who works as a receptionist and vet assistant at her dad's practice. “We've had calls from all over — Germany, Chile, the U.K. has run some things. I know there have been some South American media outlets that have contacted us.”

Molly Moore spoke with an “Inside Edition” reporter Tuesday morning and had interest from Atlanta, Alabama, Georgia, New York and Los Angeles. There have been so many emails, Facebook messages and phone calls that she said it's hard to keep track.

It all started Feb. 26 with a post on the Harborfront Hospital for Animals’ Facebook page promoting February as Veterinarian Dental Health Awareness Month. The photos were of Wesley sporting his new braces.

“This is something that we do regularly,” Dr. Moore said of the procedure. “To us, this is normal. I think a lot of the (media attention) had to do with the fact that he's a gorgeous puppy and he's happy.”

Dr. Moore, who specializes in pet dentistry and teaches at Michigan State University, said Wesley suffered from several problems — his lower canine teeth were skewering the upper jaw, his upper teeth were wedged behind the lower teeth and he couldn't shut his mouth. Not only was it painful for the 6-month-old pup, it was dysfunctional.

“He's moved quite dramatically in the last couple of weeks,” Dr. Moore said. “I like to move them when they're young. The teeth move more rapidly.”

The vet speaks proudly about the pup that his daughter got from a Grand Rapids-area breeder.

“He's adorable,” Dr. Moore said. “He's just happy about life. We've had things that show up on media outlets before because of the odd stuff we do. This is not our first go-around, but certainly the first go-around with 50 million hits.”

Molly Moore said she noticed when Wesley's adult teeth came in that he wasn't able to fully shut his mouth. He couldn't chew comfortably and had a hard time playing with his toys.

“A couple of months ago, we were weighing him constantly because he was losing weight, not gaining,” she said. “We were very worried. We realized (orthodontics work) was something we'd have to do for him so he could lead a pain-free and normal life.”

On Feb. 19, her dad put Wesley under with anesthesia and installed the braces. He periodically tightens the rubber bands and expects to remove them in a couple of weeks.

“He has been doing wonderfully,” Molly Moore said of her pup. “He doesn't even realize they're there. The only thing he notices is different is he's not able to play with his toys. We don't want him to ruin his braces, so he's been quite bored at home. We try to wear him out outside and keep him as busy as we can without toys.”

Molly Moore said Wesley is loving the fame and she's pleased about the attention being focused on animals' dental health.

“I think Wesley is just the cutest thing ever, so I'm glad other people think so, too,” she said. “I think he's loving this. He loves people and gets so excited when he meets a new person. As long as people rub his belly and scratch his head, he loves it.”

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