First, to gather a flock of sheep, the sheep at the front had to be obstructed and their speed restricted. Next, the loose sheep at the sides and back had to be harried into the flock. And this process of gathering was part of herding. During that process, whether sheep or dog, all of them would be running.
"The flock has been gathered, remove the blockade! They are beginning to drive the flock! Running positions! Lead dog! Where is the lead dog!" The commentators began searching amongst the seven dogs.
Probably not. Dog A's running position at the start did not have the imposing manner of a lead dog.
What about Dog G, who had worked hard during the crisis? Nope, Dog G's current position was at the back.
Observing the few dogs on the field, the commentators then realized the Dog B that had previously run to the wrong position had returned to the correct one,
Generally speaking, after the flock had gathered and it was time to herd the flock, the lead dog would seek out and suppress the lead sheep. Then it would force the lead sheep to run toward the desired destination. When the lead sheep ran, the entire flock would run after it.
Today was somewhat special. There was no lead dog that went to seek out the lead sheep. However...
"Today, the flock seems to be running a little fast." Obvious suspicion could be heard in the commentator's voice.
In the field, the flock was picking up speed, and the few shepherd dogs that eventually understood the situation also increased their speed. Once the gathering was complete and the running positions were correct, what followed was the herding process. As long as no unfortunate accidents happened, the sheep would be smoothly herded into the pen.
"The speed of the flock is still increasing!" The commentator's glance at his colleague was questioning what was happening, but the look the colleague returned was one of equal bewilderment.
They did not manage to catch which dog had exerted a "suppressing glare." Barking? There were indeed a few dogs barking, but all of them were excited barks as they ran; they did not seem aimed at the head sheep.
Scaring the sheep by biting?
No one saw any dog biting. But why was the flock of sheep acting like there was something frightening chasing after them?
The audiences watching the broadcast were equally puzzled. However, for those not participating, they were paying more attention to the timer.
At this moment, Wu Yi's eyes locked onto the numbers at the top right corner of the screen.
Four minutes and 10 seconds...
Four minutes and 13 seconds...
Four minutes and 50 seconds...
"Almost there! Persevere, my dears!" Wu Yi shouted. He could feel his adrenaline pumping.
Five minutes and 10 seconds...
"They are in! They are all in the pen! Five minutes and 16 seconds! Team No. 3, the shepherd dogs of Dongshan farm, five minutes and 16 seconds! That was totally unexpected!"
The commentators were deeply moved. Wu Yi, who was in the viewing hall, was so stirred up that he roared with joy. He had never expected the results of his first competition would be better than his cousin's results. He had enough to brag about for an entire year already.
Wu Yi wanted to share the joy with Fang Zhao but realized that Fang Zhao had retracted his gaze from the screen and continued writing and drawing in his notebook.
What a wet blanket! Wu Yi thought.
Turning around, he ordered a few employees who were standing beside. "Faster, faster, faster, follow me over to retrieve my little babies!"
On the screen, Su Hou had run from the instructor's platform to the pen's entrance. The instructor's platform was near the final destination, making it easy for farm owners to control their own dogs immediately.
The overly excited Su Hou, smiling nonstop, had rushed inside and was rolling around with the seven dogs, getting bits of grass all over his body. "Looks like Young Master Su is very satisfied with the results of his debut performance, hehe." The commentators laugh was no longer the sardonic laughter from before the start of the competition but rather a merry laugh.
Su Hou could not wipe away the smiles on his face as he brought the dogs back to the viewing hall. His original target was to only use hand gestures when necessary and let the shepherd dogs complete the herding. As for the timing, he had not even thought about it and had never expected it to be within six minutes. To think that it would be just a little over five minutes!
Seven days was too short. He had only forced himself to memorize the commands and gestures. The time he spent with the seven dogs was not nearly enough. When he had been standing on the instructor's platform, he'd still felt a little dumb. Never had he expected to get this sort of result.
"After you are done being happy, continue watching the competition. Is five minutes very little? Think about Shoubei Farm's four minutes and six seconds. If you want to enter the eastern region finals, you still have to cut down your time to below four minutes and thirty seconds. There is still much more training to do when you get back," Fang Zhao uttered.
This was meant for not just Su Hou but Wu Yi as well. If Su Hou had been able to come up with a quick reaction when the situation occured at the start, probably a few seconds could have been shaved off the time. This time, it was thanks to Fang Zhao's direct instructions. Otherwise, Su Hou really would not have known what gestures to show to Dog - Little Lucky, or the other dogs.
As for Wu Yi, he needed to increase the intensity of training for some of the dogs. They could herd on their own fields however they liked. As long as the job was completed, it was fine. However, the previous standard was not good enough for the competition. They could not afford to have another error next time.
"Right, right, right, more training when we get back. Little Lucky, come over!" Wu Yi had originally decided to slap the dog that had made a mistake. However as his hand descended, it became a heavy pat on the head. He was in too good a mood, and as it seemed like Little Lucky had realized its own mistake already, Wu Yi could not bring himself to do so.
With their team's part in today's competition done for, the excitement from the group gradually died down and they started to watch the following teams' performances.
The teams that followed mostly finished around the six to seven minute mark. There was one other team that gave an extraordinary performance and managed to finish within six minutes, but they were slower than Dongshan Farm by 29 seconds.
Once all eight teams had finished, many people looking at the standings today were left dumbfounded.
No one had expected that Dongshan would actually obtain such a result. During their run, Dongshan Farm's tactics were too hard to understand. Till now, there was still no analysis of it.
After the competition, there will still people that complained, saying that there was a problem with the dogs of Dongshan Farm, especially the small curly-haired dog. There were some that said the dogs were surely doped.
Toward these, Wu Yi was extremely angry. "These people losing their money by betting on the wrong team are none of our godd*mn business! The dogs have already undergone anti-doping tests. I am going to sue them for slander!"
However, as there were too many people complaining, the competition organizers dispatched a professional team over to test the dogs once more. In the end, the results were still the same.
This time, no matter how many people vented their frustrations and made noise, the organizers had this to say. "You may suspect others, but you cannot call into question the competitions justness and impartiality. Any complaints require evidence. Otherwise, see you in court."
Having won first place for today's competition, Wu Yi was excitedly waving his hands around. "Let's head back to celebrate!"
He was happy today. One reason was that his own farm dogs' had won first place in their first ever competition. The other reason was that he had won money! He had wagered a million on Dongshan Farm in private. He had never expected to win it back; he had only done so to boost his own morale. Losing it was fine, he would've just taken it as a wager for memories of the first time taking part. Never had he expected that he would actually win!
At 5.4 times, deducting the original one million, he had earned an additional 4.4 million.
While Zuo Yu excitedly counted the money, he used the corner of his eyes to watch Fang Zhao. This time around, Fang Zhao had also earned quite a large sum, but till now, his attention was not on the money but on his notebook.
"Boss, are you not going to share your thoughts?" Zuo Yu asked.
"Thoughts?" Fang Zhao raised his head. "We are heading to Qingcheng tomorrow."
"What are we going there for?" Wu Yi and Su Hou were curious as well.
"Have you heard of Qingcheng's Odd Music Company?"
"Odd Music Company? Nope." Wu Yi shook his head repeatedly.
"I might have heard of it somewhere but I don't remember what they do." Having grown up in Qingcheng, Su Hou only felt that this company's name sounded a little familiar, but he was unclear about anything else.
"Odd Music Company is a company that provides recording studios. Other than a few big entertainment companies and music academies, their company's recording studios are highly rated. I made a reservation just now. I will check it out tomorrow," Fang Zhao said.
"Music recording? Are there a lot of people?" Su Hou did not understand.
"There will be a queue. Seems like Muzhou's musical ambience is not too bad." Ever since coming to Muzhou, he had listened to quite a number of the native Muzhou songs. At Shanmu Farm, he had also heard Wu Yi playing his bamboo flute.
Not just native Muzhou music, when Fang Zhao had made a reservation for a symphony recording studio, he had realized that this style of music was also rather popular and he would be required to queue. Tomorrow, when he went down, he did not even know if he could start recording.
"Then what about Curly Hair?" Now, Su Hou felt that among the seven dogs, Curly Hair was the most reliable. If Fang Zhao went to Qingcheng, would he bring Curly Hair along?
"Curly Hair will stay and train with you. Stop thinking about relying on him all the time. I heard that the difficulty will be increased for the finals. Just relying on one dog will not do," Fang Zhao replied.
"Hehe, got it, got it." Su Hou felt that the dreams he had every day about the finals now had a chance of becoming reality.
The party brought the dogs back to Shanmu Farm. Currently, they were still living on Shanmu Farm. Fang Zhao used a long range video projection to check on the situation at Dongshan Farm. He found out that the renovation work he had requested was already complete and new grass had already been grown. Crops for the current season would be sowed on the fields and would germinate in a bit.
After arranging everything, the next day, Fang Zhao headed for Qingcheng with Zuo Yu in tow.
Odd Music Company's building was shaped like an erected flute, tall and cylindrical, and had many windows that were made circular.
Fang Zhao had made a reservation for their symphony recording studio. When they arrived, there was a private studio that were doing their recording, The forecasted time was in a short while, so Fang Zhao waited in the building's waiting hall.
There were a few others who were waiting just like him. Fang Zhao saw a few youngsters holding onto a book engaged in discussion. Fang Zhao was very familiar with the cover. It was the book he had written with Xue Jing, "New Voices in Symphonic Composition."
The paperback and electronic versions of "New Voices in Symphonic Composition" had been published worldwide. Xue Jing had mentioned to Fang Zhao that sales of the electronic book were great and that the paperbacks required additional reprints, as the reviews were good.
At a table behind Fang Zhao, a student raised his head to look at the people in his surroundings and whispered to his companion, "Nowadays, the people doing symphonic styles have increased. In the past, the symphonic recording studio was always empty, and at times, they would lend it out to other styles of music. Never did I expect that we would have to queue despite booking a day in advance."
"Seems like it started when 'New Voices in Symphonic Composition' came out. A classmate in an orchestra told me that, every day, he is busy from morning till night. Previously, the amount of idle time made him consider changing professions and he felt that there were no prospects for him. Now he is crazy busy, but he laughs when he dreams. You know, now that their orchestra is gaining popularity and their charges have doubled, surprisingly, they are still that busy."