Liz Smith moved to Baltimore in December of 2019 because she felt it was time for a change in her life and because she wanted to live somewhere with a vibrant dog community.
She found what she came for.
Smith, 30, is a speech language pathologist for Harford County Public Schools. She lives near Patterson Park, where she just bought a house, with her dog, Koda, a Great Pyrenees mix. The two have been exploring Baltimore’s dog community. Outside of that, Smith has also participated in intramural leagues and attended some Moishe House Baltimore programs.
Smith grew up in East Brunswick, N.J. She attended Purdue University for her undergraduate degree and West Virginia University for graduate school.
What brought you to Baltimore?
I was living in Arlington, Va., for about five years. I was kind of unhappy with my job and overall living situation. I just thought it would be nice for a change. I also really wanted a dog, so I had to find a place that was dog friendly, and Baltimore is the dog-friendliest city I’ve ever seen. So I applied for a few jobs, got one and moved.
What makes Baltimore so dog friendly?
I have never seen so many dogs in my life. There’s actually an organization called the Dogs of Charm City. They hold dog events. There’s a BARCStoberfest in Patterson Park, which is an Oktoberfest celebration that supports BARCS animal shelter. Koda’s been to breweries. Before the pandemic, he went to a Thanksgiving, a BARKSgiving. We went to a pub crawl. They called it a paw crawl. Any bar in Baltimore that doesn’t serve food you can bring your dog. And of course there’s always a wealth of outdoor dining stuff.
Why did you want to become a speech pathologist?
My mom is a special ed teacher, and that’s how I got involved in the world of special ed in general. She was the one that suggested it. I was open to anything at that point. I wanted to help people. … When I was in college, I took some classes, and I really liked it. My second year of college, I started working at a sleep-away camp for people with developmental disabilities, and I just loved it.
When you were growing up, were you exposed to the special education field through your mom’s work?
Oh, yeah, my mom used to take us to work. Actually, every year on their field day, we used to help out with the kids’ field day. I always helped out at summer school. The worst week ever was right before she went back to school. My brothers and I would have to help her set up her classroom. … In high school, I also volunteered with Buddy Basketball to help kids with disabilities. We’d play basketball together.
Was Judaism a big part of your life growing up?
Yes. I was raised Reform, went to Hebrew school twice a week. I went to a Jewish sleep-away camp. I also had a b’nai mitzvah because I had a twin brother.
What was it like sharing your bat mitzvah with a twin?
When you’re a twin, you get used to sharing a lot of life events. You always share life events, so it’s hard to say, because I didn’t know what it was like to not have [a twin]. The whole thing was great. The only thing that kind of sucked was, you know how everyone picks a theme? I would have picked a very different theme than my brother so we had to pick something neutral.