Remember that Jack London story where the know-it-all iceplainer is a dick to his dog and freezes to death? The Twitter account Blair Braverman uses to document her preparations for the Iditarod is the exact opposite of that, but the love and devotion between Braverman and her dogs makes for just as epic a tale.
Braverman, who began the race yesterday, has been studying mushing since 2008, when she went to Norway to learn about the sport. Now the author of a 2016 memoir called Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube and a contributor for Outside magazine, Braverman has also amassed over 60k Twitter followers as she tells the sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking story of training her 20 dogs for the race.
She told Anchorage Daily News that she started the account to promote her memoir, but quickly got sick of serious writer talk and began tweeting about the dogs instead:
“At some point I just gave up because all I wanted to talk about was the dogs. So I started telling a few stories and people cared, and all of a sudden I had a vehicle to tell people about my dogs.”
But the story she’s telling goes beyond good boi memes. As Braverman and the 14 pups who’ll be competing with her prepared for the grueling 938 mile race, they became characters in an incredibly compelling story about Braverman’s journey to become one of 17 women competing in this year’s race. Mushing, she told NPR, is one of the few sports where women can expect to be taken as seriously as they take the competition:
“Mushing is one of the only sports where men and women compete together at elite level,” she says. “We are taken seriously as athletes because there’s no chance for people to tell themselves we’re not on the same playing field.”
However, because the internet’s gonna internet, she hasn’t always been taken seriously by trolls. One commenter who told her to “Go back to your ugly dogs, Karen” inspired the name she gave her followers: #UglyDogs.
To her dogs (who are not ugly in the slightest), Braverman acts as “a coach, a nutritionist, a parent, even a veterinary tech,” along with serving as their biographer. Her tweets cover everything from the quality of their poops to their personalities. For example, Colbert is afraid of heights, while Pepe acts as “everyone’s mother.”
At first, Braverman worried that the account would mean not being taken seriously in the publishing world but lucky for us, decided to write what she wanted anyway:
“My initial fear in my early 20s was that serious publishers wouldn’t want my work if I was tweeting dog pictures all days,” Braverman said. “I’ve found that serious publications are also run by people who love dogs.”
Good luck to you and the puppies, Blair! And someone turn this into a Netflix series already.