The competition started right at 9am.
The staff first led out teams one through ten and had them compete one after another. When they were halfway through the first round, the staff went to get the second batch of ten teams.
Ning Yan watched and, as he had expected, most of the dogs hadn’t been through targeted training and couldn’t even get through the course correctly. More often than not, the owners had to entice the dogs down from the slide and then they’d rush off to play with the other dogs. This meant the time dragged on and the crowd laughed or chatted. Sometimes a dog would think about jumping through a hoop and that would garner some scattered applause.
Afterwards, the organizers realized that this wouldn’t work, so they set a three-minute time limit.
In theory, the entire course should take less than a minute to complete. If dogs didn’t complete the course in three minutes, they’d be written off as having failed the challenge.
Ning Yan watched attentively and thought he’d win for sure against this bunch of silly dogs! But it took more than an hour before the staff came to get numbers 31 through 40.
As soon as the completely covered up Lin Rong moved, the older women and men around him noticed. Maybe his height really made him stand out, but immediately several pairs of hands slapped against Lin Rong’s back.
They cried out enthusiastically, “Good luck youngster!”
“You look like such a superstar!”
“Hey, now that you mention it he does look pretty familiar…”
Lin Rong nodded at them politely and then… pulled down the rim of the fisherman’s hat even more.
When they were lining up, Ning Yan finally ran into the German Shepherd from the previous week.
The older gentleman was wearing a white polo shirt and greeted Lin Rong with a smile. He said, “Every time my Lulu comes around here on our walk, he insists on staying here for a while and looking around. I guess he’s really infatuated with your puppy. Hey, you sure that the one you have is male?”
As the man talked, the German Shepherd stared at Ning Yan with deep-set dark eyes.
Ning Yan gave him a wordless glance and then ignored him in favor of watching the competition as his tail wagged.
The German Shepherd cracked his mouth open into a smile and panted.
Lin Rong’s expression stiffened and he quietly walked up to block the little white dog from sight. His voice was low and tense, “My Yeye really is male.”
“What a shame. It’s so rare to see him so interested in other dogs.” The older gentleman shook his head and remarked, “When female dogs approached him before he wouldn’t even glance their way.”
Then the German Shepherd reached out a paw and patted Ning Yan.
Ning Yan turned around angrily, “Woof!”
The German Shepherd panted and looked pleased.
Lin Rong’s face darkened and he picked Ning Yan up.
Ning Yan suddenly felt his field of vision shift higher. He looked up puzzled at the man and then wagged his tail before settling into a more comfortable position in the man’s arms. He concentrated on watching the competition.
Lin Rong sighed in relief and gave the German Shepherd a warning stare.
The German Shepherd stopped panting and closed his mouth as he stared at Lin Rong.
Lin Rong squinted his eyes.
The German Shepherd also squinted his eyes.
Lin Rong’s eyes turned chilly.
The German Shepherd’s eyes also turned chilly.
The man and dog stared at each until it was finally the German Shepherd’s turn. The German Shepherd stood up and barked at Ning Yan with a deep voice, “Woof!”
Ning Yan jerked once and looked down. The German Shepherd’s ears twitched and he walked up to the field with proud steps.
“Hey, we’re just here to participate, to participate.” The older gentleman waved his paper fan. “My Lulu’s never trained before. Ah, say, when I say ‘start’ we start counting right? Then let’s go—”
The older gentleman smiled and announced unceremoniously, “Start—”
As the “start” faded, the German Shepherd dashed forwards like a loose arrow. The older gentleman scared himself into almost dropping his own paper fan.
The German Shepherd ran around a row of wooden stumps, rushed up the ladder platform, jumped through two metal hoops, got up the slide and then down the slide rapidly, leapt over five bars that were low to the ground—
The leg muscles that bulged as the dog ran, that striking figure, that serious expression…
Finally, the German Shepherd got up another ladder platform and jumped through a metal hoop to arrive at the finish line!
Just thirteen seconds!
The crowd fell silently for one second and then everyone started cheering.
“He must have been trained? He definitely had to be professionally trained!”
“Maybe it’s a retired police canine?”
“This breed is called the German Shepherd, right? As expected from a wolfhound breed!”
“That has to be first!”
“In comparison, my dog is such a silly boy!”
Ning Yan was also surprised.
When he recovered, he immediately grabbed onto Lin Rong’s arm tightly with both paws and snarled!
It had all been noobs until now. This one was a champion!!
He had wanted to be the first and only champion!
Lin Rong saw how angry the little white dog was and immediately rushed to comfort him, “Yeye relax, you’ll absolutely be first.”
Ning Yan snorted from his nose—Of course! How can he lose to a bunch of actual dogs? Does he have no pride?
Elsewhere, the German Shepherd walked off the field and the older gentleman hugged him and cried, “Lulu, Lulu,” in surprise. The reporter and the cameraman were already there interviewing.
The older gentleman had never been on TV before and immediately flushed. He scratched helplessly at his sparse white hair and tugged at his loose white polo shirt. He was so shy his voice lowered several notches in volume.
The German Shepherd just sat there and watched Ning Yan from afar, tail wagging.
Ning Yan was absolutely furious!
That dog is gloating at him, definitely gloating at him!
A staff member called out, “Mr. Ning and Yeye, please go wait by the starting point.”
“Good Yeye, don’t be angry anymore. Try your best in a bit.” Lin Rong focused on soothing the puppy and then reminded with a frown, “But also be careful not to get hurt, okay?”
The white puppy stared ambitiously at the starting point and Lin Rong didn’t know whether the puppy heard what he had said.
His brow furrowed more and he wanted to say “Yanyan” but ended up swallowing the words.
When he put the white dog down at the starting point, he reminded again in all seriousness, “Absolutely no injuring yourself, okay?”
Ning Yan thought, You have to give it your all in a competition! During that process, he has no say in whether he gets injured or not. Sometimes it is just random luck!
Lin Rong looked intently at him and said quietly, “Darling, will you be good?”
Ning Yan, “!!!”
He stared wide-eyed and dazedly at Lin Rong.
What did the big pervert just call him?
The man’s ears turned red and he looked away. In the end, he moved his gaze back and said calmly, “Will you be good?”
Ning Yan gave him a deep look and didn’t move.
Lin Rong closed his eyes, took a breath, and lowered his voice even more, “Darling, please listen?”
As if a current had run up his spine, Ning Yan barked with a trembling voice that almost broke, “Woof, woof, woof!’
Crap, big pervert, jerk of a pervert!
The staff member spoke up from the side, “So, sir, when can we start?”
Lin Rong hesitated and then stood and walked to the side.
The white dog let out a few excited barks and then circled around Lin Rong a few times. He then returned to the starting point and pressed his body against the ground, wagging his tiny tail so furiously that all anyone could see were shadows.
Lin Rong, “…”
Why does it seem like Yanyan got even more excited?
The staff member hurried again, “Please start.”
Lin Rong pressed a hand to his forehead and said, “Yan… Yeye, go…”
At the end of his sentence, the white puppy immediately shot forwards!
Though the white dog was small and a mixed breed and didn’t look strong and powerful like the German Shepherd, Golden Retrievers, or Border Collies, he rushed forwards like a little cannonball!
Because the German Shepherd’s performance had already pulled the audience’s attention back and heightened their passion, Ning Yan’s performance immediately won him applause and cheers!
Ning Yan hadn’t really done any vigorous exercise recently, so he started panting as soon as he got off the ladder platform. But he had a really strong sense of participation and refused to give up until the end. So he gritted his teeth and rushed up the slides, then slid down on his butt. He adjusted his position as he landed and ran forwards, jumping over the bar!
One, two, three, four, five…
Ning Yan ran until he saw stars. He vaguely heard the man call out to him in a worried voice but he also heard the crowd counting down the time and calling, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, it’s almost past 13 seconds!”
Ning Yan, “…”
Ning Yan howled.
He found a last bit of energy and surged forward the last few steps past the ladder platform and through the metal hoop. Then he collapsed into the man’s waiting arms like a dead dog.
“13.2 seconds!” The staff member announced the time.
Ning Yan froze like he had been struck by lightning! His world collapsed!
0.2 seconds difference?! Just 0.2 seconds!
Lin Rong felt the white puppy trembling after vigorous exercise. When he felt the dog stiffen at the announcement, he immediately comforted and said, “It’s fine, it’s fine. That’s already super great, Yeye.”
Ning Yan shook in anger and then, with a whine, he burst into tears.
Lin Rong panicked and held the dog like a child as he tried to soothe him, “Don’t cry Yeye, that’s a great time, good Yeye…”
“Oh no, he’s feeling bad.” The older gentleman had just finished his interview and walked over to take a look. “Is he… very sad about this?”
The German Shepherd was right by the old gentleman’s feet and looked up at the howling white dog with a serious face.
The reporter followed them over and couldn’t resist giving Lin Rong a few extra looks.
The cameraman whispered quietly from beside her, “The guy and the dog look a bit familiar.”
The reporter paused and asked, “Have they been on TV before?”
The cameraman thought about it and then shook his head, “I can’t remember right now.”
The reporter thought about it and then walked up. She pushed the microphone forwards and asked with a smile, “Hello, may I interview you?”
The white puppy was still sulking in his arms and Lin Rong turned around without a word.
The reporter assumed he’d agreed without a word and laughed when she saw the puppy still sobbing heartbrokenly in his arms. “Is he crying?”
Lin Rong stroked the puppy’s back in an attempt to soothe him and answered with a quiet voice, “He had high hopes for this competition.”
This, this answer seems a bit extraordinary?
She straightened her glasses and teased the white puppy, “13.02 is an amazing score. Little guy, you’re treating it as winning first, friendship second.”
Ning Yan twisted his head around and gave her a stubborn look.
There’s no friendship. Winning comes first!
The white puppy’s eyes were wet with tears but filled with a sense of stubbornness. At first glance, he really looked like a little kid who had just cried but still refused to admit defeat. That cuteness was lethal.
The reporter paused and put a hand over her heart as she asked, “May I pet?”
Lin Rong answered calmly, “He’s not used to being touched by strangers and might get afraid.”
“Oh, oh. Then nevermind,” the reporter said regretfully and turned to ask Lin Rong several questions such as whether the puppy had been trained before, what kind of training regiment they had, and had they participated in similar competitions, etc.
Lin Rong politely answered with half-truths. After the reporter finished the interview, the glance she shot towards Ning Yan was still filled with longing and temptation.
Ning Yan thought that it was bad enough to be defeated by a German Shepherd, but then a Border Collie came along and got first place by running the course in 11 seconds.
Ning Yan’s eyes had lost their light.
Lin Rong, “…”
At the end of the competition, the organizers invited the first through third place dogs to come on stage.
The slate-merle Border Collie sat joyfully on the highest platform and titled his head proudly towards his owner. His owner happily took a bazilion photos and called his name, like the parent of a kid who had won first place in an athletic competition!
The German Shepherd sat demurely on the second platform and Ning Yan sprawled on the side listlessly.
Everyone burst into laughter at the scene and most of them had their attention focused on Ning Yan.
“Awwww, so unhappy?”
“He must be so tired. He’s flat out!”
“Hahahahaa, this white dog is hilarious!”
Lin Rong put his forehead in his hands.
A more bizarre thing happened when the organizers handed out the award to the dogs.
The little gold crown belonged to the slate-merle Border Collie. The Border Collie puffed out his chest and let his owner take a dozen photos before suddenly but carefully lowering his head so that the crown fell to the ground. Then he picked it up by his teeth and put the crown on the head of the white puppy next to him.
Ning Yan jerked and sat up in such a rush that the crown on his head tilted.
“…” The Border Collie’s human turned around to ask Lin Rong, “Your dog is female?”
Lin Rong answered expressionlessly, “Male.”
The Border Collie’s human was shocked, “Then how come?!”
Lin Rong continued being expressionless.
Ning Yan was shocked and turned around to look at the slate-merle Border Collie.
The Border Collie lifted his paw and patted Ning Yan’s back. Then he jumped off the platform and sashayed his way to his owner.
Ning Yan looked in stunned surprise at the elegant figure of the Border Collie and couldn’t look away for the longest time.
The German Shepherd lay down and snarled.
Lin Rong’s face darkened again.
That night, City A’s 6pm news became a hot topic of discussion.