Trainer's Sled Dogs Lead Her to a Surprising Realization About Body Acceptance

Sled dogs all have different bodies with different needs, just like us. And just like dogs, we shouldn't be judged for our different bodies.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jul. 15 2019, Updated 5:35 p.m. ET

If you don't follow Blair Braverman on Twitter, you are sorely missing out. The author and professional dogsledder shares incredible stories about her amazing dogs, and her latest thread is no exception. There's no end to what we can learn from man's best friend. They teach us loyalty, friendship, and yes, even body positivity. 

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You should probably get comfortable, in your body but also like, in a chair or something, because this thread is long and full of an unbelievable amount of wisdom. Not to mention the adorable dog photos. Come for the body positivity, stay for the ridiculously cute pictures of some incredible pups. Even if you're not a professional dogsledder, I promise you will get something out of this thread. So keep reading.


I remember learning this, too. But it was pretty much in one ear and out the other. Bodies may be different, but for the most part, the type of body that is valued by society is the same. And when that one body is shoved in front of your face repeatedly for years on end, it's hard to let go of the idea that the only desirable type of body is tall and skinny and busty, etc. It's time we dismantle that myth.

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When you are a professional dogsledder, you probably get to know those dogs even better than you know yourself. Not just their athletic ability or their sledding habits, but their eating and sleeping habits, their likes and dislikes, their personality quirks, and yes, their bodies. It stands to reason that you will learn a lot about dogs when you work with them every single day. What might not be so obvious is the things they'll be able to teach you about yourself.

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All bodies are different. I know that Blair said that before, but believe me when I say this sentence is about to take on a whole new meaning. This dog knows what she's talking about. Look at this floppy-eared wonder in this perfect ray of sunshine. This dog knows what it means when Blair says "All bodies are different." The differences in dogs' bodies can tell us a lot about how we should treat the differences in our own.

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OK, so Blair Braverman might be the world's most internet savvy dogsledder, but she's also an amazing writer. In a literal way, all dogs have different bodies. The silliest example of this is that I grew up with Newfoundlands. These are long-haired, giant bears of dogs with droopy, slobbery faces and fluffy, 100+ lb. figures. I now own a beagle-dachshund-chihuahua mix. He's got short, white hair and his legs are about six inches tall. And yet, he is as much of a dog as my big Newfie.

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But the point Blair is trying to make is that all her dogs have such different bodies. Some of them eat and eat and eat and never gain weight. I know people like that, and you probably do, too. It doesn't seem fair to the rest of us, but it's also just a fact of life. It's just how their bodies work. They didn't do anything to make their body work like that, and we didn't do anything to make our body not work that way.

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I like the term "easy keeper." That's what I'm going to call myself from now on. Easy keepers are no less valuable or worthy of respect and love than those dogs who can eat and eat and eat and never gain an ounce. It's just simply the way they are, the way their bodies work. It's something to acknowledge, to work with, and to move on from. The dogs who are easy keepers are definitely not sitting at home worrying about how they're easy keepers. 

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Look at that face. That is the face of a being who has never been shamed for being born with a certain type of body. Some sled dogs can get into shape really quickly. We have all heard that it is much easier for men to lose weight than it is for women to shed a few pounds. And there's variation within that, too. It's just how some bodies work and not a comment on their worth or how "good" they are at being bodies. 

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Some sled dogs have to ease into their training, maybe start with a trot or a jog because they just don't get into shape as quickly as some other sled dogs. And that's totally fine! I happen to relate to this group of sled pups. "Gentle workout" is, in fact, the only type of workout I even remotely enjoy. Give me a pool to swim slow laps in or a yoga slash nap video, and I'm all yours. That's my kind of workout.

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More power to those dogs who want to and can run 1,000 miles, especially in the snow. This pup looks extremely adorable with those little icicles all around his face on his whiskers. He's a hero. But not every dog (or person) can do that. Some bodies just aren't built for it. If one dog can run 1,000 miles and one dog gets tired and lies down after half a mile, is the dog who can run more miles better than the other dog? No! That would be absurd.

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Some sled dogs have stamina; others have strength. Some are built for the long haul. Others are better at short-distance sprinting. And others still are barely interested in being sled dogs at all. You know what? All of that is A-OK! In fact, me personally? I love a lazy dog. I want a pup who will cuddle with me day in and day out, who I can take to the park and watch run around for five minutes and then plop down on the grass next to me.

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Some dogs have disabilities. The dog in this photo appears to be blind, but that doesn't stop them from having a big old smile on their face, and it shouldn't! Dogs can teach us so much about how to treat others who have physical differences. Like Blair said, all bodies are different, and not just in a "oh, let's love ourselves" kind of way. Bodies are fundamentally different in so many ways. And no body is better than any other.

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Some dogs and some people were born with bodies that require extra care. And those bodies are just as worthy of love as any other body. Nobody, and no body is perfect. It is high time we realize that and stop treating people differently based on the kind of body they have. All these dogs, the dogs who love to run, the dogs who don't, the dogs who require extra care, the dogs who don't, all of them are sled dogs. And all of them are equally valuable to the team.

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You hear that? "The differences aren't good or bad. They just are." It really doesn't make sense to ascribe value to one type of body over another. It's a crazy idea. Blair loves each of her very different sled dogs because they all contribute something special to the team. No matter their habits or their needs, they are worthy. In the most literal sense, their bodies are completely and totally disconnected from who they are.

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And the same is true for people. We are so inundated with images and messages that make it clear that certain types of bodies are valued over others in our culture. But that idea is patently wrong and absurd if you really think about it. Your body is not your fault, nor is it an accomplishment. The body you were born with is not up to you, and therefore, you should never be judged or praised for it. 

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sled dogs

Yes! This, a thousand times. We don't have control over the composition of our bodies, just like we don't have control over the color of our eyes or our hair or the way our teeth grow in. We have been trained to feel like we need to correct those things, along with the rest of our bodies. But the truth is the way you look has no bearing on what you deserve or how important you are. Only your actions decide that.

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So as far as dogs and all other types of bodies go, they are all magnificent. They are all perfect in their own imperfect ways. This thread makes so much sense that it almost seems like something we should have been taught years ago. Not to mention all the dog pictures warmed my heart completely and made me want another one. Blair Braverman knows what she's talking about. Love your body the way you love your dog, and you will be OK.

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