Socializing during the Downtown Lecture Series Simulcast at The Core at La Encantada

For the past three weeks, Lizzie and I have been attending the simulcast of the Downtown Lecture Series at The Core Health and Wellness at La Encantada.

The lecture series is hosted by the University of Arizona's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. For their fifth year, they chose the theme Truth and Trust in the Global Scene.

  • Wednesday, October 11: THE FUTURE OF ELECTIONS: WHO AND WHAT CAN WE TRUST? - A Conversation with the Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, Carolyn Lukensmeyer

  • Thursday, October 19: REDEFINING JOURNALISM IN THE POST-TRUTH ERA - An Interview with the Executive Editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet

  • Thursday, October 26: WHAT THE NEWS DOESN’T TELL YOU ABOUT RISING GLOBAL CONFLICT - A Conversation with the former State Department Head of Counterterrorism, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin

If these conversations sound like some interesting brain food, you can watch them for free from the Downtown Lecture Series webpage along with previous conversations from the other four series.

Lizzie holding a STAY and posing at The Core at LaEncantada during our first visit for the Downtown Lecture Series.
Lizzie barely touched one of her favorite chew toys while I sat and watched the simulcast of the first Downtown Lecture Series at The Core at LaEncantada.

Not having to drive downtown to hear these conversations is a huge plus for me, and even better The Core allows me to bring in my pup for some great socialization practice.

Lizzie has been a pooftier little pup. I think she may have a case of small dog syndrome, which I've been trying to treat by gradually exposing her to more and more people and places.

During these simulcasts, a handful of people show up and there are always at least two staff members. However, the speakers onscreen use microphones and the audience applauds. The speakers change every week, so she's hearing many different amplified voices.

While we were waiting for the second lecture in the Downtown Lecture Series to begin, Lizzie sat patiently in a DOWN-STAY.

During our three visits, Lizzie was exposed to a nice variety of experiences:

  • Volume on the simulcast gets adjusted, so sometimes a voice or two will boom out.

  • People walk by to get snacks or head down the hallway to the restrooms.

  • A leather journal dropped on the wood floor, so a light slam startled Lizzie, but she didn't bark or even pffft.

  • The front and back doorbell ring, so the staff move around to greet various people.

  • People walk by outside, which Lizzie can see through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

  • One man had mints or candy in his pocket, so he'd make interesting noises that Lizzie really wanted to investigate.

  • The staff will staple papers or restock their refrigerator; sounds that Lizzie has heard, but not outside her home.

On our second visit, we arrived early enough for Lizzie to explore a bit more and enjoy various athletic sniffs like this weight set at The Core at LaEncantada.

Within the audience present at The Core, you never know how many people will show up. On the first night, there were eight other people plus two staff members. For the third simulcast, only three other people showed up.

Lizzie had a harder time on that third night. To begin with, I did not have time for any other exercise prior to our visit to The Core. For the first lecture, I had time to get both pups to the dog park for an hour, and on the second visit, Lizzie had a brisk 30 minute walk before heading over to La Encantada.

Not even thirty minutes into the third lecture, I heard Lizzie making a low growling sound. I looked in the direction that she was staring and one of the other viewers was an older man with leg braces. The next thing I knew, Miss Lizziekins let out a single bark.

And, of course, that's the moment where I just wanted to crawl inside my skin and hide! My dog just barked in public! At a man with leg braces! I shushed her quietly, distracted her with her toy, and picked her up.

As soon as I picked her up, I thought how bad of an idea that probably was. Why reward her bark with attention that she has not previously gotten at The Core? She's been good about settling down while I watch these lectures. I do give her treats intermittently as I watch, and she has a quiet toy she can chew on, but she'll find a spot and settle. She may get up here and there, but she always settles back down.

Based on that smile, Lizzie loves visiting The Core at LaEncantada.

I decided to put her back on the floor on the other side of the chair farther away from the older man, who was already more than ten feet away from us. She was restless, so I busted out a cookie to get her attention.

I used my backpack as a visual barrier as much as I could so Lizzie couldn't see the older man. I broke the cookie into smaller pieces. I had plenty of cookies in my treat bag, but given how pfffty she seemed, I didn't want to take any chances of running out. 

Instead, I started by rewarding her for being quiet. Once she understood that I wanted her to stay quiet, I rewarded her for being in a down position and remaining quiet.

While Lizzie remained generally tense, she didn't bark again, and her pfffting subsided. While I was totally prepared to pack up our stuff and leave if she did bark again, I was relieved that Lizzie stayed quiet.

I'm sure it's hard for her to be taken to these strange places with people she doesn't know. At 15 pounds, she is tiny, so almost everything is bigger than her. Knowing that those leg braces scared her is good information for me. I can work on taking her to more places where she'll see wheelchairs, braces, prosthetics, and walkers, so she begins to understand that those items are not threatening.

Socializing during the Simulcast of the Downtown Lecture Series at The Core at LaEncantada.

What unusual places do you take your dog for more socialization practice?

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