As a professional dog-sledder, Blair Braverman has learned a lot from her pups over the past 13 years. They've taught her to work hard, love deeply and, of all things, appreciate her body just the way it is.
The Alaska-based racer shared this heartwarming message of body positivity in a recent string of tweets.
While reflecting on her adorable crew of pups, Braverman revealed that her dogs have helped her focus on developing a healthy body image, writing, "Y’all, having sled dogs has been so good for my body image. And not because mushing is a joy-filled, physical outdoor activity, although that’s true. It’s actually something much simpler than that."
Braverman continued by explaining that she grew up learning that all bodies are different, but only truly grasped the concept when she started taking care of dogs.
"@QuinceMountain and I feed and train and massage them, teach them as puppies and ease them into retirement. We get to know each dog so well. And once we started doing this, do you know what became EXTREMELY OBVIOUS?" Braverman wrote. "Get this: All bodies are different."
Each of Braverman's glorious dogs have their own unique bodies and habits, and that's totally OK with her.
"Some of them eat thousands of calories a day and are still complete stringbeans. They eat literally three times as much food as everyone else," she wrote. "Some of them can eat, like, a tablespoon of kibble, and the next day they need a bigger harness."
And much like human bodies, all dogs respond differently to physical activity.
"Some of them can start training in September and are immediately ready for long runs," Braverman shared. "Some of them need to ease into training slowly. They need gentler workouts—and more training sessions—before they can keep up with the rest of the team."
Some of her dogs have disabilities, or were born with bodies that need a little extra TLC.
But the differences aren't labeled good or bad. They're just different.
Braverman, who wrote about her experience as a dog-sledder in the book "Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North," told TODAY Style she first made the connection between her dogs and body positivity a few years ago.
"I was talking to a friend who was struggling with body image, and I pointed out that her body was built like one of her favorite sled dogs, Brewtus, and said she would never talk about him the way she talked about herself. The idea resonated for both of us. It made me realize that I have much more confidence in my body than I used to, and that part of that is from working with the dogs, from seeing them grow and tackle challenges, and from loving them so much as individuals," she said.
The dog lover soon realized her own body is similar to her dogs in that it has its own set of physical traits that are totally out of her control. And she figured others could relate to this idea, too.
"I thought my thread might make a few people smile, but I had no idea it would take off. I've gotten so many meaningful notes from people saying that it helped them to be kinder to themselves, or at least to try to be kinder," Braverman said.
Raising and working with dogs for a living is certainly a lot of worth, but Braverman said she definitely gets more than she gives.
"The most important thing that my dogs teach me is joy. Joy in movement, joy in being together and joy in exploring the world. Our bodies are the tools we use to do that, and I'm grateful every day," she said.