My last encounter was the scariest. These guys had definitely hurt people before. They were big, muscular and covered in tattoos. And unlike the others they were hostile. I was only lucky I had my dog with me. It's a big Great Dane/Bull Mastiff Cross. People tell me he looks mean. I don't think so, he's my baby! Anyway, what happened was this.
I was walking my dog from Malabar beach to the Headlands. The road there leads to a dead end so there Isn't much traffic and there are no houses- just a water treatment plant hidden away on one side, and bushland on the other. Anyway, I thought my dog would love the trails in the bushes so we explored them. Near the end of one trail we came across this friendly black Labrador puppy which was all alone. I patted it and my dog played with it and it walked with us. I figured maybe the owner was further along looking for him.
We came to the end of the trail. It was at the edge of a giant parking lot. This is an area where people park their cars after launching their boats. That day it was deserted except for a group of what looked like Bikers. Just the kind of people my dog especially loves. (I don't know why). He and the puppy raced towards the men. They noticed us and immediately broke into a chant: “Basher, Basher, Basher!” I thought this was the name of the puppy. I didn't want to go near these guys but when I tried calling my dog back he wouldn't come so I had to go down to get him.
He was with their leader, who didn't look scary at all. He was thin, clean cut and friendly. It was obvious that the puppy belonged to him. He was next to his van which had a trailer with mowers on it, so I guess he was in charge of these guys. Maybe they were convicts on a lunch break? I could see they had a lot of respect for him. When I got to him he was giving my dog lots of pats. Meanwhile the guys he was with were giving me hostile stares. I figured I'd better move along. I told the boss I was going to the beach down by the boat ramp. He asked me if I'd take his puppy there too. I smiled and said of course I would!
When I got there I called my husband on my mobile to come and pick me up. I waited and let the dogs play on the beach until I thought my husband was there. I then took them up the hill to the parking lot and gave the puppy back. The leader was very grateful. He patted his puppy and hugged it. Turns out its name was Fred. Meanwhile the convicts were glaring at me. I wanted to get away from there as quickly as I could so I said goodbye and headed for the road, but then my dog gave out after only 100 yards. We hadn't even made it out of the parking lot!
There was nothing I could do. I just had to sit there with him until he recovered. The guys were watching. One guy in particular looked like he was going to come after me, but I smiled sweetly and kept looking at the leader. This was to remind him that I was under his boss' protection. Thank goodness it only took my husband 15 more minutes to arrive.
Anyway, I thought I'd tell about these encounters so maybe it will help if you're in a tricky situation. I read once that being confronted by a gang is the same as being confronted by one person- it is the leader who decides your fate so deal only with him. When talking to him, show respect, no hostility, no fear. Look at the situation from his point of view. You have to give him a good reason to let you go and go against the wishes of his gang. In the High School encounter I had made the leader embarrassed to be seen with me. In the NY situation, I was changing the odds from 4-2 to 400 to 4. Any gang could see the logic in backing down. In the case of the street kids, I pointed out that they'd be laughed at if they carried out their plans. In this last case the leader himself gave me a way out-he asked me to do him a favor and that's what made me off limits. The fact that I had a big scary dog with me also helped, though I could see these guys taking him on. Especially since he was tired. Of course these tactics won't always work. If it's a weak leader he wouldn't be able to stop his men. If it's a case of mistaken identity, heaven help you- just run! It's not always going to work, it will just increase your odds. Let's hope you'll never be in such a position, ever!
Part 1 High School Gang
Part 2 New York Gang
Part 3 Street Gang