Jasmine, a 10-year-old Havanese, knows over 100 unique tricks. This talented dog has been on international, national and local television stations — including "Good Morning America" and "Animal Planet." She has also been in commercials and photo shoots. Her YouTube videos have millions of views and her social media friends hail from all over the world.
“Animals are super popular on YouTube,” said CJ Jackson, Jasmine’s owner and trainer. “People would find her videos and share them and share them and now my dog is crazy popular!”
Not only does Jasmine do tricks for her adoring social media fans, but she is also a therapy dog. And with Jackson, she spreads joy and bring smiles to all those who see her.
The adventure started shortly after Jackson got the Havanese puppy. Jackson didn’t set out to make Jasmine a celebrity trick dog — she didn’t even know how to train a dog. With the help of books, a class and YouTube videos, she set out to train her puppy to sit, stay and go outside for her business. However, Jackson said Jasmine caught on so quickly and soon the pair was learning more tricks.
Jackson, who lives in Phoenix, was telling her grandma, who lived in Utah, about Jasmine. Jackson said the puppy was learning basic tricks and her grandma said if Jackson could teach Jasmine to jump through a hoop, she’d come visit. So Jasmine learned to jump through a hoop. Jackson started to post videos on YouTube so her grandma could see and the videos started to gain traction.
Though Jasmine has many tricks, Jackson thinks the dog’s best one is the shopping cart. This trick took several years to perfect. Jasmine will stand on her back legs and push a kid-sized shopping cart. Many of her tricks have evolved from ideas surrounding kids’ toys. Jackson comes from a large family and has lots of nieces and nephews and sometimes she uses them as inspiration.
“I consider Jasmine to have the intellect of a toddler,” Jackson said. So if her toddler nieces and nephews can do something, Jackson said she usually will try to teach Jasmine.
Some tricks build on others and only take a few minutes to learn. Others take months or even years. Jackson trains Jasmine with positive reinforcement clicker training. When Jasmine does something good, Jackson will click the clicker and give the dog a treat. She also emphasized the importance of remaining positive in training.
“That’s the whole secret. You keep it positive, you always end on a good note, and you reinforce the good behaviors with a reward,” she said. For some dogs, that reward could be a toy, additional affection, or, as in Jasmine’s case, a treat. Jasmine is highly motivated by food.
CJ Jackson learned how to train dogs with her pup Jasmine. | Provided by CJ Jackson
In addition to being tricky, Jasmine changed Jackson’s life. Jackson said growing up she didn’t think she had any talents. She said she can’t sing, draw, dance or act. But thanks to Jasmine, she has learned she has other talents that aren’t as visible.
“I am very encouraging. I am very patient. I am consistent. That’s a talent!” she said.
A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jackson said she believes in the importance of using her talents to bless the lives of others — but she didn’t know how to do that.
“But because of Jasmine, Heavenly Father showed me that I do have talents,” she said. “A way I can use them to bless other people’s lives is through Jasmine.”
Jasmine can also bless lives as a therapy dog, not just a YouTube star. She goes to local schools, retirement homes and a children’s hospital. Jackson and Jasmine visit the hospital, often weekly, and go door to door to ask patients if they’d like to see some tricks.
They have had great experiences, Jackson said. One time, they were able to connect positively with a young boy who was hospitalized because of a dog attack. Another time, they were able to change tears to smiles and laughter for a little girl who had come out of cancer treatment.
“To have that kind of effect in someone’s life,” Jackson said. “I’m just so lucky to be a part of that.”
Whether it’s performing on talk shows, in YouTube videos or as a therapy dog, Jackson focuses on the connections she and Jasmine can make with their viewers and friends. She shares Jasmine’s talent because it brings smiles and laughter.
“There is so much negativity in the world that if I can bring something positive and cute and fun to the world I think, why not,” she said.
And as for having a famous dog, Jackson said it’s the best because it never goes to Jasmine’s head. She is just the same happy dog she has always been.