The inaugural Arlington Pet of the Week is Starr, a 4-year-old Newfoundland pooch.
Starr, nicknamed the “Goofy Newfie,” has her own Facebook page. She lives in the Shirlington area with her owner Stephanie Kwisnek, who wrote the following on her behalf.
“Starr’s here!” “Starr’s here!”
The kids chant my name as soon as I jump out of the car. They come running up to me and give me a big hug, and I feel like the luckiest dog alive!
Hello, my name is Starr. I am a show-stopping 4-year-old Newfoundland dog who is a trained therapy dog living in the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington. I have learned how to comfort, cajole, listen and support people in ways that humans never can.
I volunteer with the Casa Chirilagua organization Kids Club; an after-school program for 6-12 year olds that helps children with their homework, especially with reading. Because of my good listening skills and sweet personality, I was recently named “Volunteer of the Month” with the organization.
Now, you can imagine I am pretty imposing by my size: 175 pounds, about 5’ 6” when stretched out. But deep down, I am just a big, furry, teddy bear. One little girl was so afraid to touch me at first; but now she can’t give me enough hugs. The organizer recently said that even their most resistant readers can’t wait to get a chance to read to me!
In addition to my work at the Kids Club, I am a certified therapy dog with the People Animals Love (P.A.L.) organization. With PAL, I visit libraries in Arlington to read with more kids. I also volunteer with the Arlington County (Virginia) Animal Welfare League and visit with patients at Northern Virginia Training Center (NVTC), a residential training facility for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. I am the perfect size for the patients, most of whom use wheelchairs.
Believe me, when I walk the streets of Arlington — carrying my treats home from Dogma or Best Buns — heads turn. I am definitely, “the Starr.”
The Arlington Pet of the Week is sponsored by Dogma Bakery, which has locations at The Village at Shirlington (2772 S. Arlington Mill Drive) and the Lee Harrison Shopping Center (2445 N. Harrison Street).
Want your pet to be considered to be the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week’s winner receives a $25 Dogma gift card.