AAPP is over the moon to welcome our new interns for the Spring semester of 2022, Hallie (Hal) Robcke and Jazmine Valentin. As a former university lecturer who loved teaching, I am thrilled to work with bright students who are passionate about the human-animal bond. Many thanks to PACE University for sharing them with us!

We asked Hal and Jazmine what their pets mean to them, and they had so many lovely things to say! Meet them below.

–Courtney Wennerstrom, Director of Content

Hal, Molly, Neil, and Duke

Hal and Duke

What do my pets mean to me? Well, pets play so many roles in our lives: they are family, best friends, and in many cases, they are pure therapy! For me, they’re all of the above. I have three amazing fur babies, Neil, Molly, and Duke. Neil and Molly are senior cats, and Duke is my rescue dog. Every moment I spend with them is a blessing for which I am very thankful. At the end of the day, these three amazing animals are a highlight in my life. While the situations leading up to their adoptions were less than ideal, I wouldn’t change any of it. Without those events, I wouldn’t have ended up with these wonderful family members. My love for them grows every moment I spend with them. I am looking forward to continuing my adventures with each one of them and spoiling them with affection!

My Furry Felines

My cats, Neil and Molly, have a pretty significant hold in my heart. They originally lived with my grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and when he got to the point where he could no longer take care of them, these two lovable cats were going to be sent to a shelter. Sending two senior cats away just didn’t sit right with me and my family. So, when we heard about their situation, my mom made the brilliant decision to drive down to Georgia and bring them home to New York. Twelve hours later, my family had their newest additions, and I wouldn’t change our decision to bring them home for the world. While my grandfather is no longer with us, these two cats serve as a reminder of him every day of my life. I admit, I am significantly closer to Neil as tends to have a more skittish personality around people and uses my room to hide in. Our bond has grown so much with all the time I am now spending at home, he has truly become my best friend. Molly is the older of the two, pushing 14 years old, and while I don’t have the same bond with her, I do love her endlessly. She has had a few medical issues over the years, but that never put a damper on her kitten-like personality. She is always ready to play, whether it be with toy mice or even just string she finds on the floor. She also loves to curl up on our fuzziest blankets for naps. My family affectionately refers to her as our “sweet old lady.”

My Perfect Pup

Duke–a German Shepherd, Labrador mix who we rescued from our local shelter–is both my protector and an amazing cuddle buddy, He joined my family in 2015 after the loss of our husky and is total couch potato who just loves to be with his people. He is one of the most loving animals I have ever had the pleasure to be around, although I’m a little biased. I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t loved him after meeting him, and vice versa. Duke loves to be around people in general, you typically won’t find him far from someone in my family. Usually, he’s with my dad as their bond is just so unique (but isn’t that how it always is with dads and dogs?) He is always ready for an adventure and has come on so many vacations and hikes with me, he is definitely my favorite travel partner. He especially loves the trips that involve swimming. Once he is in the water ist is almost impossible to get him out. He also looks super cute in his life jacket, even if he doesn’t like wearing it. However, trying to prevent him from drinking lake water will forever be one of the hardest things I do. While he is super friendly, he has a protective side to him as well. I always know I’m safe with him around. My favorite way to spend time with him is taking him for walks. It gives me a chance to clear my head while also getting him some exercise after being inside all day. Above all else, Duke is my family. I always feel better after a hard day when I get to spend time with him.


Hal is a Public Relations major at Pace University and a pet mom to 2 cats and a German Shepherd mix. In her free time, when she is not chasing my cats off her counters, she likes to read, travel, and spend time with her family.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram @hals_robcke

Jazmine and Lila

Jazmine and Lila

From catching sticks to a pandemic, pets are the best companions in any situation.

As a senior in college, I have had to experience many stressful situations throughout the past four years. From trying to balance a job and six courses–all while being a caretaker for my mom while balancing seven courses. College life was never and still is not easy. Although it may not be easy, there is someone who makes those stressful situations feel less tense, my furry best friend, Lila.

Due to my busy life, I have not always been able to take a complete day off and relax with my furry best friend. I have had Lila with me since I was 13 or 14 years old, she will be turning 9 years old this upcoming April. I always think to myself, “where has the time gone?” You might be able to relate to this question yourself but if I were to answer this in a completely honest way, I would have to say that time has been spent and dedicated fully to my busy school and work life and not enough time has been spent with Lila. She has been the gift–and I had been asking my parents for a dog since I was about 7 years old! I begged, did extra chores, and even bought stuffed animals that were battery operated to be able to know what it felt like to have a dog/furry best friend. Times have changed so much, but I never thought I would be able to make up for all the time I was not able to spend with Lila.

Mental Health and Furry Companionship

Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be working and completing my BA from home, fully remote, with my furry best friend sitting next to me. The pandemic has been a blessing and a curse. It all started out with me being sick with my dog by my side to me taking a class on zoom in the comfort of my own home with my furry best friend right next to me . Since this pandemic was everywhere, I have been able to spend quality time with my dog for almost 3 years straight. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. My dog, Lila, has been with me through it all, even in my darkest moments. The pandemic was very challenging, and many pet owners out there that have also gone through some difficult situations and thought that it would never get better. I certianly felt that way, especially while being indoors for a whole year. That helped me realize that I had not spent enough time with my furry buddy. My dog has always meant the world to me, and thinking back on how I was not able to spend as much time with her before the pandemic really made me feel guilty because I saw that she always wanted to spend time with me but I was never completely able to spend a 24/7 schedule with her until I would get back home from school or work.

Not only was Lila there to provide cuddles, but to relieve some of my stress that can easily turn into anxiety. The pandemic was an eye-opener because it taught me to take time-off from being a workaholic and to remember that mental health matters both in humans and in pets. I am extremely grateful that I have been blessed to have a special furry best friend in my life that has been with me literally through thick and thin. Even though she may have a little bit of stinky breath, she will always be the cutest no matter what. I can’t imagine what I would do without her, and I’m pretty sure those reading this can say the same about their pets. Don’t take the time you have with your pet for granted, instead take as much time as you can and spend it with your furry best friend.


Jazmine is currently a senior studying at Pace University majoring in public relations, and will be graduating with her BA at the end of 2022. Jazmine is a lover of all animals and has a pet of her own, Lila—-a poodle/schnauzer mix–who she has had since she was 13. Jazmine is so excited to be a first-time intern at AAPP!

Connect with Jazmine on Instagram: @_.jmoneee_

Published On: February 10, 2022|Categories: Cats, Dogs, New and Stories|