Before ovens, there were dog wheels

Today, hand-cranking a skewered piece of meat over an open flame is thought of as a fun, old-fashioned way to prepare a meal, but when spit-roasting was the standard form of cooking, it was rarely humans doing the cranking. Instead, rotisseries were usually operated by dog power.

Many homes had their own “turnspit dog,” an extinct breed of short-legged canine that may have been related to the similarly-sized terrier. When it was time to cook a meal, the hyperactive pet was confined to a hamster-like wheel and, as the turnspit dog whirled its tiny paws in place, the wheel would crank the spit above the house’s fireplace. Like many humans during the 19th century, the dogs ultimately lost their jobs to automation and today the breed is considered lost.