Arlington Pet of the Week: Starr

by ARLnow.com January 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm 5,008 54 Comments

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 [email protected] Each week’s winner receives a $25 Dogma gift card.

  • Rachel

    Great filler story arl! Now, please show us news on the county, no more fillers please. And leave this comment up! Don’t be mad.

    • hoser

      This is probably the same person that complains when the news does a puff piece instead of yet another depressing story about the economy, school shootings, politics, murders, serial butt-slashers, etc, etc.

      • Michael H.


        Why does news have to be only about negative events or business? I don’t see a problem with this type of story. It’s not as though they don’t cover local business, politics, crime, real estate and social events too.

    • Oz

      Do you also complain about the “Your Beermonger” posts? That isn’t “hard-hitting news” either, but people enjoy learning more about their local community. I like dogs, and Arlington’s full of them, so I’ll read these posts and feel they’re relevant. I especially like dogs that contribute something to the community, like Starr. Props to her owner Stephanie! Go be grouchy somewhere else. If you don’t want to read about dogs, don’t waste your time clicking the link.

    • 7-11-bum

      I would bet Starr contributes more to the local community than most of us ever will, so she deserves her spotlight. And this is also a GREAT story highlighting some volunteer opportunities (for people and animals alike) in the county. As Oz said…Go be grouchy somewhere else.

    • Swag

      It’s not a filler, it’s an ad masquerading as news.

      This site used to be worth visiting.

      • Quoth the Raven

        Well, at least for me, ads or filler don’t affect whether or not I visit the site. If I don’t like an article, I just won’t read it. And the ad does clearly say who the sponsor is, so it’s not as if they’re trying to hide anything.

  • Ralph

    Please stop using this type of filler stories. Not helpful for your reputation.

    • Are You Serious

      Arlnow’s reputation is doing just fine thank-you.
      Yours on the other hand—-not so good.

  • Agreed

    Yep – this is when i stop visiting this site.

    • bark

      Yay!! please go!!

  • Rachel

    more FILLING, tastes NOT GREAT

    • ArLater

      Please stop filling up the comment section with your repeated filler comment.

      This is a hyperlocal blog, not CNN or one of the major news networks. You get Arlington news and other interesting things about Arlington. Not everything has to be overturned car or budget shortcomings. Lighten up, or please leave. I am sure ArlNow, myself, and most other commentators would not mind.

      • Ralph

        A hyperlocal blog can chose to provide high-quality articles, and ArlNow has done a great job of that — so far. Writing about people’s pets reduces the standing of ArlNow.

        It will cause people to take it less serious. That might not matter in the short run.

        • KathyInArlington

          Ralph: It should read: “It will cause people to take it less seriously.” I am so tired of people in print and on television leaving the “ly” off of adverbs. It seems to be an epidemic.

          • Ralph

            Fair enough 😉

          • takingittoofarly

            Don’t you mean “fairly enoughly”?

        • ARL-VA

          How does it reduce the standing of ARLnow? ARLnow is a mix of the more serious and the light-hearted parts of Arlington. Where’s the problem? Why the outrage? Strange.

          ARLnow isn’t a law review journal or an economic advisory board. The readership won’t disappear and the website won’t implode because they include some lighter articles.

          • KathyInArlingtonVA

            Well said. Just like any newspaper or magazine, people will read what interests them. If there is something tthey are not interested in, they should mind their own business rather than complain about something someone else may like. It seems like people have too much free time on their hands so they venture into areas they are not interested in. Not a smart thing to do. They could be reading another article here they actually are interested in or they can find something else on the internet to read. It’s not rocket science.

  • John

    Why do you all hate this?? ArlNow is a local “news organization.” This is exactly what local papers and stations do.

    Would you rather here about frozen yogurt all the time?

    And this isn’t any less newsworthy than videos of the woman with the largest breasts living in Arlington.

    • KathyInArlington

      I agree. It is wonderful to have something positive in this newsletter. The people who are complaining are probably doing so because they can’t think of any of their usual ridiculous comments to banter about. Like any newspaper, one doesn’t read everything, only the items of interest. The same applies here. If you are not interested, don’t read it and then gripe about it.

    • ARL’er

      Some people just like to complain. Some people need to hate something. Doesn’t matter what.

      There are 7 other articles today, from serious topics like the response of the local Congressional representative to the “fiscal cliff” negotiations to lighter stories like this one and the latest frozen yogurt store opening.

      ARLnow is not becoming Dog Fancy. They are covering different aspects of life in Arlington. I hope they continue with the mix of the more serious with the more local, community-paper type stories.

  • woof

    keep the pups coming, LOVE this story!! all the Haters….why did you click when the headline was “pet of the week”?

  • purr, bark

    GREAT dog! Thanks for volunteering your time Starr!!

    • Captain_Obvious

      Thank the owner, not the dog.

      • growl

        go away

  • Deadite

    “I want this FREE hyperlocal blog to provide only the most heavy-hitting, jaw dropping news content! One more of these FREE articles that I could just as easily ignore and I’m not going to come here anymore!”

  • WeiQiang

    Those not wishing to view this [and still clicked the link] do see that it’s sponsored, right?

  • Sandy

    Goodness grief. ArlNow thank you for interjecting some fun into the week with stories like this. The great thing about community news for me is that I actually feel apart of a community. This was very entertaining and Starr is quite the inspiration to humans and her four-legged counterparts. My dogs Paige and Kettle and I will be sure to say hi if we run into her at Dogma. =)

    • Pet Friendly

      I agree. Nice story.

  • Captain_Obvious

    They can post whatever they want and we all can choose to read it or not…end of story.

    “Having said that”, a dog with its own facebook page ? Come on now. This is what’s wrong with crazy dog people.

    • Cat

      I know that’s right.

  • Mrs_D

    I love the story and believe there is a place for this type of story along with all the other types of news the site covers. Balance is a good thing!

  • Meh

    Very slow news day to lead with this story.

    • Deadite

      If by “lead” you mean it’s like the fifth story of the day.

  • Scooter

    I enjoyed this story, and I thank Starr and Stephanie for their wonderful work in our community. Way to go!

  • KalashniKEV

    What is that a picture of?

    What is this story about?

    Why is it here?

    • pupster

      We like Dogs!

  • Karen

    I agree — what a wonderful service this dog provides! Other dog owners can learn from this and do the same, which makes it newsworthy as raising public awareness and education.

  • Hank

    Man, that is one attractive dog! Mmm…

  • Kevin

    On it’s homepage, ARLnow.com describes itself as a “local, independent online news organization”
    Well, this is the type of story a “local” (as in “community”) news organization covers.
    It’s not the Washington Post!
    Keep up the good work folks!

  • Kiki

    This dog does more work in a week than most people I know. Way to go, Starr!

  • Cynthia

    While I think Starr is a wonderful dog, I think it would be better if the Pet of the Week focus would be on an animal from the Arlington Pound that was up for adoption.

    • Frank

      Pretty sure they said that once a month a shelter animal will be featured.

  • Ashley

    Starr’s volunteer work is highly commendable. Her and her owner’s dedication to volunteer work makes peoples’ lives brighter. Thank you, Starr!

  • Prisca

    Slow news day…

    • ARL’er

      You do realize that there were 7 other articles posted today, don’t you?

  • I love this story. People who complain about it will complain about everything else, so just ignore it. Don’t want to read about pets – don’t read the story!

    Starr is beautiful and a great joy for many. Thanks.

  • Jackfan

    Starr (and her owner) are my neighbors in Shirlington and they are absolutely wonderful. She’s the sweetest dog in the world and it’s such great work they do. And those of you complaining need to lighten up or go to WTOP if your panties are in such a wad. I’ve never seen such a bunch of unnecessary whining. Lord.
    I love this feature. Thanks ArlNow!

    • Beth J

      Preach! More pets, less whiners.

      • Beth J

        Self correction before the grammar haters come out: FEWER whiners.

  • Cynthia

    Thank you Arlington Now for including the article about Starr and her wonderful owner, Stephanie! They are both fabulous volunteers with our People, Animals, Love (PAL) organization [and many others – I just learned from your article].
    As the coordinator of the Arlington Paws to Read programs, I can tell you first-hand they have an amazing positive impact for helping children learn to love reading. They richly deserve the recognition in your news. Many thanks to Dogma for sponsoring the feature and I hope you will continue to do so!

    • Stephanie Todd

      You’re welcome, Cynthia. Thank you for your feedback and support. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if there’s anyway we can help you in your efforts at PAL.

  • Donna

    Great Article Arlnow.com! It’s great to have various news articles besides politics, new restaurant openings, etc.

    Keep up the good work Starr!


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