Onyx Deploys Secret Weapon

A series of hilarious articles by Pawprint regular contributor Norman Morcom.  Published across four Pawprint magazines in 2014, this condensed edition tells the story of a gang of KODC Agility dogs and their friends, who our intrepid reporter suspects of being a little too good...



Bianca’s miniature poodle Onyx has been showing a stunning level of jumping control which has led to outstanding success at agility trials. Many questions have been raised as to Bianca’s training secret.

In an exclusive report we now reveal Onyx’s secret advantage. He uses his ears as wings to get extra lift and manoeuvrability at high speed! Onyx is so fast over jumps, and the trick happens so quickly, that the human eye cannot pick it up. It’s only through high speed photography that the secret has been revealed.

In the photo of Onyx you can see how his ears are lifting his head and he’s dipping his right ear to turn to the right in mid-air!

Bianca has been unavailable for comment but we understand she was inspired by canard winglets at the front of the latest aircraft. You can clearly see the similarity.
It’s taken Bianca many months of intensive secret training to get Onyx to visualise using his ears to greatest advantage. If the ears are deployed at an incorrect angle Onyx goes into an uncontrollable spin. Thankfully he has proven to be very resilient in crashes.

Could a whole new training regime now arise so other dogs can harness this extra advantage? Could a selective breeding campaign, or even surgery, be undertaken to make the most of possible improvements in ear shape and length? Do people believe everything they read?


Readers of last month’s Pawprint will recall our exclusive scoop concerning a radical new agility technique that could revolutionise the training of dogs to jump at high speed. We revealed a photo showing Bianca’s poodle Onyx using his ears to generate additional lift and provide steering in mid-air.


We have now obtained more spy-cam photos showing other dogs undergoing training at the “Aero-Ears” (trademark) secret location in suburban Melbourne. The dogs initially have their ears held outwards on frames or splints.

Training with ears pegged to a wire coat hanger

When the dogs run and feel the lift generated, they intuitively utilise the assistance their extended ears provide. After only a few days’ practice, the supports can be removed.


We have conducted an exclusive interview with Professor Pan Ting Harde, the eminent dog-sport physiologist at the Royal Institute for Performance of Canines Under Repetitive Loading (RIPCURL). The professor wears a white coat like cosmetics salespeople on the TV, so he must know what he’s talking about.

Professor Harde considers the claimed performance improvement for “Aero-Ears” is unbelievably good. He explained that dogs have around 18 separate muscles that allow them to move their ears up, down, back and forth. Training could strengthen those muscles until the ears become strong enough to go without the support frames.


Professor Harde is now seeking Federal Government funding urgently for further research. To date his RIPCURL organisation has had to finance all their research by sales of their well-known wetsuits which are made in one of their laboratories after normal working hours. Dogs undergoing their endurance training on treadmills generate electricity to power the sewing machines.

Rubber bands and a ruler make a temporary splint


Owners of dogs with short ears have complained the Aero-Ears technique provides an unfair advantage to dogs with long ears. So are we going to see rule changes which ban this training technique? How could such a ban be policed? Do people believe everything they read?

Aero-Ears providing extra lift


Readers of recent Pawprint editions will be aware we’ve been investigating Bianca’s poodle Onyx learning to use his ears to generate additional lift and to steer in mid-air. We’ve revealed a secret “Aero-Ears” (trademark) training facility is offering classes in the technique.


We can now reveal a surprising secret with implications wider than agility competitions. It now appears the extended ears can be maintained when the dog is not jumping.


It was early on a morning in July at Knox Obedience Dog Club that the breakthrough came. At 7am the grass was still white and crunchy, stiffly frozen from the sub-zero temperatures overnight. Susan ran her springer spaniels Pip and Brynn around the agility course using their newly learned Aero-Ears technique.

Frozen grass at KODC

But when they’d finished their runs in the cold air, their ears remained extended outwards. Moisture droplets on the long hairs of their ears had frozen, although the fleshy parts were still warm. Susan was startled but the dogs thought it great fun. As the ice crystals on their ears melted the ears returned to their usual floppy position.

But the following morning, when exposed to the cold again, their ears spontaneously rose to their extended “wing” positions. Some sort of response had been induced whereby exposure to a sub-zero temperature caused the ears to extend. Susan is considering renaming her two dogs Wilbur and Orville after the Wright Brothers who pioneered aviation.

Training techniques have now been developed where a brief exposure to a sub-zero temperature can induce a dog to extend its ears rigidly outwards. The dog doesn’t need to be put in a freezer, simply rubbing with an ice cube is sufficient. Brynn will even successfully respond when shown a photo of a refrigerator!

Pip after 4 strokes with an ice cube

Brynn looking at a photo of a refrigerator


Those outstretched ears can provide an improvement of up to 10% in rally-o. Both Pip and Brynn have performed exceptionally well at rally-o trials while using Aero-Ears. Susan was initially puzzled by this benefit as rally-o dogs don’t jump at high speed. But it’s now thought the advantage is due to improved hearing rather than aerodynamics.


Complaints have increased from owners of dogs with short ears claiming unfairness. Could we see frustrations lead to physical violence between the owners of different breeds? Can short-eared dogs innovate their own performance-enhancing strategy? Do people still believe everything they read?

Regular readers of Pawprint will know we’ve recently revealed a radical new agility technique where dogs can learn to use their ears to generate aerodynamic lift and mid-air steering.


There’s now been a new massive shift in the “arms race” for agility superiority. Alois’ border collie Chloe has been showing incredible speed at recent jumping trials. Her times have consistently been better than existing champions and she’s won prizes for the fastest runs of the day.

But Chloe’s ears are insufficiently long to generate aerodynamic lift and steering. So how does she get the extra boost over jumps?


We’ve discovered Alois has taught Chloe to increase her speed by JET PROPULSION! By supplementing Chloe’s diet with baked beans, there’s a huge increase in the gases produced in her gut. The expulsion of those gases at an appropriate time can produce increased thrust. To preserve dignity we will not go into detail, but expect our readers will understand what happens.

Caught in the act.  An illegal nutritional supplement?


Our spy-cam photos are proof of the shocking truth. We don’t know whether such nutritional supplements breach ANKC rules on doping. Essendon Football Club has issued no comment.

Our reporter became suspicious when seeing Alois driving to the mid-winter Bendigo trial with his car windows fully down, even though the outside temperature was below 0°C.

We’ve again contacted Professor Pan Ting Harde, the eminent dog physiologist at the Royal Institute for Performance of Canines Under Repetitive Loading (RIPCURL). He explained how gases produced in a dog’s digestive tract could be expelled as a strong jet from its rear end by contraction of muscles as the dog jumps. 


Professor Harde thinks you may not need to actually teach a dog anything to gain a basic benefit, as the jet propulsion would happen automatically due to the muscle action. But to take full advantage of the propulsive effect, the dog must be trained to exert control to extend its gas supply over an entire agility run. At trials, Chloe’s launch speed drops at each successive jump.  This indicates there’s room for further improvement.

It’s difficult to calculate the size and timing for eating the baked beans. For a substantial fee Alois is offering private instruction. Not to be outdone by Aero-Ears catchy name, he is considering calling his technique Xtra-Propulsive Handling After Radical Treatment (or X-PHART for short) but we fear that name could limit marketing opportunities.


We secretly observed dramatic evidence of the benefit of X-PHART training when, an hour after eating a full can of baked beans, Chloe launched over an A-frame at maximum thrust, reaching such super-hero speed that she made no contact whatsoever with the downward side. She was also too fast for our camera to catch properly.

Chloe at full thrust was only a blur to the camera

There is of course a socially embarrassing price to pay for increasing a dog’s performance this way. The dog becomes an unwelcome guest most places, and the effect lasts many hours.

Is this an inappropriate use of performance enhancing substances? Would an agility trial be bearable if every dog was on this diet? Do people still believe everything they read?

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Knox Obedience Dog Club

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