This is a little different to most of my usual posts but I thought it would be an interesting story to share on the blog as it is still relevant to resolving conflicts.

So here goes, my ten year old son is new to his local football team, he normal plays as a winger but he played in defence last Sunday and I decided to take a nice journey down to watch him and his team mates in action.

When we got to the pitch where the game was being played it was bitterly cold, so I decided to move around a bit to try and stay warm. As I was trying to stay warm, I had a look around the ground and on either side of the pitch, I noticed there were two sets parents from either team which is what normally happens at these sporting occasions.

I decided to take a stroll around the pitch and whilst I was walking I noticed a young man of around 25-years of age with a small Jack Russell type dog. What struck me at the time was he was wearing just a T-shirt in freezing temperatures. The dog he had with him was on a really long lead and it looked like it was trying to bite peoples’ ankles and the guy seemed to find this funny.

As I continued to watch with interest, I saw the guy walk further on and his little dog charged towards a Labrador and the Labrador quickly ran off with its female owner getting a bit upset. I remembering thinking trouble could be just around the corner and I wasn’t wrong.

Suddenly, whilst watching the game I heard a lot of commotion and a lot of dog yelping noises. I turned around and saw that the little dog had gone for another dog, this time it was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and it had bitten it hard on its snout.

The bull terrier took offence to this and bit the other dog hard on its mouth and then locked its jaw so hard on it almost bit the dog’s tongue clean off. This was a horrible scene to watch and it all happened it seconds. The Jack Russell was now squealing really loudly in pain. All of this noise and commotion caused most of the parents from the opposing side of the pitch to run across including several large blokes. The guys quickly got very angry and started being really aggressive with the owner of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. One guy even lunged for it and pulled it clean off the ground by its lead. A friend of the Staffy’s owner tried to help the little dog. He was quickly elbowed in the head by a guy from the other side. Another parent jumped in he got strangled by his neck and then got head butted. All of this happened really quickly in split seconds. Seeing things were getting violent, I quickly jumped in and said:

“Come on let’s sort this out properly and get the dog to the vet”.

As soon as I said it one large guy threatened me and I deliberately stepped back a little bit to show I wasn’t being aggressive. If you step back during a conflict you demonstrate that you are being passive and I could tell he wasn’t going to back down now. If I had remained closed to him, I believe he would have attacked – so I made a calculated decision for three reasons.

  1. It creates more space to operate in if the situation gets nasty.
  2. Legally he will be seen as the aggressor if he steps forward.
  3. It seemed to be the right thing at the time as he was going to attack.

I need to point out that I did have my hands up (I covered this in a recent post) – so it would have been hard for him to hit me. So I took one or two steps but most importantly, I didn’t turn my back. I could see in his face that he thought he had a psychological advantage but he still wasn’t sure about me, as I was stood like I knew what I was doing. Because I stepped back he felt he had the moral victory and so the net result was he didn’t attack me. If I had backed off a lot it would have demonstrated fear and then he may have attacked me then too.

The police arrived to sort matters out properly and he came across to apologise. He said:

“My behaviour back there was out of order, I can see you were trying to calm things down. Let’s shake on it.”

I told him:

“I am not going to shake my hands with you”.

I did this because personally I felt that by backing down the second time this could have made me even more vulnerable when my son plays this team again. The point of this story is my observation and positioning both prevented me from being attacked.