A feed filled with sled dogs is the only thing keeping me sane right now


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Photo: Courtesy of Blair Braverman

Senators are making rape jokes, women are screaming into a void, and Melania is wearing a white fedora last seen on the head of a melting Nazi. But the puppies are eating French fries. They’re putting their noses right up to their crate doors, baring their teeth and gently, very gently, they’re nibbling French fries…

Blair Braverman is a 30-year-old dogsledder, author, and, according to her Wikipedia page, “adventurer.” She lives in northern Wisconsin with her husband and training partner, Quince Mountain (somehow these are their real names), and 21 Alaskan huskies. She’s training for her first Iditarod, a 1,000 mile race traversing “the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer.” It was Blair’s puppies who were eating the French fries.

social media and mental health
Photo: Courtesy of Blair Braverman

Blair (affectionately called Bler by her dogs and admirers) introduced her 26,000 Twitter followers to the puppies on the 25th of June this year. There were two litters of them, and both loved to run, chase, and eat cheese (and French fries!). And like Blair, the puppies are adventurers. They’ve done many things, these glorious pups. Funny things and heroic things, and things that make me cry. Here’s a list of some of the things Blair’s dogs have done:

– A dog named Flame learned how to be nice to baby chicks (and not eat them).
– A dog named Blowhole (allegedly) ate through the brake lines of Blair’s truck (#freeblowhole).
– A dog named Glory moved west to be a pet dog after deciding she didn’t want to be a sled dog anymore.
– A blind dog named Hari saved his whole team by leading them through a blizzard—and again when Blair fell off the sled.
– Then there was the time Hari almost stopped running forever—his very favorite thing to do—because he hurt his paw and decided that the Ground Is Sharp. But Hari’s friends wouldn’t let him give up, and showed him how to not be scared anymore.
– The puppies also once helped clean up after a tornado tore through Blair’s property, because they’re good dogs.

social media and mental health
Photo: Courtesy of Blair Braverman

And, as far as I can tell, here are things Blair’s dogs have never done:

– Grab a woman by the pussy.
– Shoot an unarmed man in his own home.
– Say, “I believe she was assaulted, but not by him.”
Separate children from their families.
– Accuse teenaged victims of tragedy of being actors.

Before the dogs got their French fries, Blair loaded them into a rig and drove them 90 miles to a vaccination clinic. When they arrived, Blair let them out of their boxes and hooked them to a lead in the parking lot. Many of the puppies had never worn collars before, but Blair paired each one with “an adult companion dog as a mentor to show them the ropes.”

It must have been overwhelming for those puppies, to be loaded in a rig and driven 90 miles and made to wear collars for the first time. But they had their adult companion dogs with them, to tell them “you got this, babe.” And they had Blair.

We have Blair, too, to help when times are overwhelming, when our world feels small and dark and mean. There’s a swamp in Washington and accused sex offenders in Congress, but in northern Wisconsin, there’s a 30-year-old woman with 21 Alaskan huskies who’s training for the Iditarod for the first time. And that reminds me that there are still good things. Sometimes, the Ground Is Sharp. But your friends are strong and brave (just like you are, deep down) and you know the finish line is ahead in the distance—even if it’s hard to see; even if you can’t see it at all—and together, you will get there. We all will.

Another bright spot of the internet? Those ridiculous moth memes—here’s what they can teach you about following your dreams. And here are 5 more ways to practice self-care during these scary times.

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