It was a lovely, chilly morning at 6am. With our headlamps on, four of us were geared and ready for our long distance training in the Cameron Highlands. We had been planning and looking forward to this run.
The run started out easy especially in the cold. We felt positive. There were no cars and no one else. Just us, chatting easily with the sounds of our footsteps on the grounds.
Approximately five minutes into the run, we heard barks from behind us. The barks grew louder and closer. To our horror, there was a pack of about four to five big dogs charging at us.
“Let’s run!” I recalled pulling Nicole’s hand and dragging her with me so we could both speed up. The guys behind us kept up and Edward shouted at the dogs.
I saw a flight of stairs and ran for it, hoping the dogs would carry on forward. They did not. They ran up the steps and slopes after us. I was praying it would not be a dead end. To my relief, it was an open gate! We dashed through it and onto the compound of a convent. We ran all the way to the end and stood there. The dogs stopped chasing. One stood watching us from about 50m away. The rest went off.
Moments later, they came back! This time, with more dogs! The barked and ran towards us. We took flight and barged into the guard’s house. A guard was there. He told us the dogs would not bite. However, we were too afraid to go out. They were there, clearly, for us. So, he went out and shouted at the dogs to go away. They did, much to our amazement!
We waited for a while. He opened the back gate and let us out. We walked briskly back to our apartment. After that, we reflected and googled on ways to cope during stray dogs encounter. Apparently, we did everything that a dog whisperer would frown upon – sped up and shouted at the dogs. We were just lucky we did not become their breakfast.
Here are some of what we should have done.
- Calm down, slow down and walk or even stop – running will encourage a pursuit!
- Try using common commands such as “stop” and “sit”
- Do not look at the dogs’ eyes
- Do not squat down or pretend to pick up something to throw at the dog – this is the surest way to agitate the dogs and get pounced on.
After that morning’s adrenaline rush, hitting a best pace of 3:20min/km for a 450m run in total out of our planned 2-hour run, we decided that it would not be ideal to train in the highlands. We might end up having to keep stopping because there were so many packs of dogs. We might not be that lucky to escape all the time too. Besides, we have not really tried and tested all the recommended tactics.
Life is an adventure, they say. This would definitely be one of the most memorable chapters in our running journey.
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