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Dog Power!

By: Bill Heincker

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Animals have been used on farms worldwide for millenniums. Horses, mules, donkeys and oxen were by far, the favorite species for most animal powered equipment. However, Tucked away in American small farm heritage is a contraption that harnessed the power of the dog.

This rare but useful piece of equipment, known as the "dog power" allowed the family dog to earn its keep around the farm. The dog power was invented to help with daily chores like pumping water from a well, washing clothes, separating cream from milk and churning butter. Think of the dog power as a "doggy treadmill" that converts the dog's walking motion to power the equipment. The photos show an original dog power (made in Shivenis, NY in 1880) connected to a dasher butter churn.

Sheila, my six year old "red Heeler" is providing the power. It takes her about 5-10 minutes to turn the fresh cream to soft butter! After rinsing and removing the buttermilk, the butter is ready to eat!! Sheila trained to the dog power quite easily and has been doing it for the past 4 years. She loves to run the dog power at several events throughout the fall season, mostly at the "Fall Harvest Days" in Dittmer, Missouri.

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