Donor: Edwin Murray
No, not twitchy dogs ... not even a dog at all ...
Twitching dogs are two lengths of chain connected by rings with hooks on the ends, all made by a blacksmith. They were used by lumbermen to drag logs out the woods by horse.
The twitching dogs pictured here were made by Arthur DeForest of Waterford over 70 years ago.
The donor, Ed Murray, wrote this memory of his father, Donald R Murray, using a set of twitching dogs.
One Saturday morning in the early 1950's, our father told my brother John and me to dress warmly in old clothes. He was going to show us how to team a horse for yarding logs.
Off we went, full of vim and vigour, thinking that this would be better than farming. The horse looked different because it had on a skeleton harness as opposed to a full set for farming. We found out that a "crouper" went under the horse's tail to hold the harness straight.
Father showed us how to hook the "twitching dogs" to the whiffletree and the heel chains to the tugs or traces. He then unhooked one heel chain so that the whiffletree would not hit the horse's heels on the walk back to where the logs were scattered.
The horse was backed up to the first log and told "whoa." Father grabbed the first twitching dog and drove it into the log 5 inches from the end with a wooden maul.
Then Father gave the safety instructions, "Boys stand back beyond the end of the log because many a man has been hurt by the end of a log swinging around."
The horse was stopped at a second log and a dog was driven into it. The horse was stopped at the brow and the dogs were removed with a peavey. The logs were then rolled rolled up skids onto the brow.
The next lesson was how to hook onto a big log by driving the dogs into the log - one on each side - and shortening the heel chains to give the log a lift.
Our last piece of advice for the day was "Leave the horse alone, he knows more than you do."