Monday, August 26, 2013

CJ Jackson & Jasmine

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is CJ Jackson, and this is my dog Jasmine. (Or if you’ve seen her on YouTube… “My Favorite Pup Jasmine”.) Jaz is a female 7 year old Havanese.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I wanted to stop by and chat with my friends.

What's brewing?

I don’t actually drink coffee. But on cold days, I like hot chocolate, and on warm days, I like strawberry lemonade.

Any treats for you or Jasmine on this occasion?

I picked out a cinnamon roll, and Jaz has her favorite liver treats.

How did Jasmine get her name? Any nicknames?

Once I knew I was getting a dog, I went through all the movies I owned, and wrote down all the girl names. Then I went through the list, and crossed them off one by one. Jasmine eventually got named after Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Her nicknames include: Sweetie, Jaz, Jazzy, Jazmataz.

How were you and Jasmine united?

When I decided to finally get my first dog (as an adult), I researched the breeds thoroughly to find one that suited my needs. A patient at work actually told me about the Havanese breed. (Because they are hypoallergenic and good w/ kids and other animals.) That fit me perfectly because I have bad allergies! (Plus I knew my dog would always be around kids and other dogs.) So that patient gave me a referral to someone who had a Havanese that needed a home. And that’s how I got Jasmine.

Jasmine is quite the TV and YouTube--and print media--star. What gave you the idea to make her first video?

Jaz is my first dog, and I had never trained a dog before. So I read books, and took a class on how to do it using positive reinforcement. We just learned together. My only goal was just teach her how to sit/stay and go potty outside. But she picked it up so fast, I had to come up with new things to teach her. I made my first YouTube video as a way to show her tricks off to friends and family who live out of state.

People always want to know how Jasmine got famous. In 2008, a friend sent me a link to a contest she found online. Mighty Dog dog food company wanted to know if your dog was a “Mighty Dog”, and encouraged people to submit a video. I sent in Jasmine’s trick video, people voted, and she was one of the winners. Because of that, she got to be in a commercial, web video, and photo shoot for Mighty Dog. We had so much fun filming that I decided to look into getting Jasmine an animal talent agent. We auditioned, and they accepted her. So that’s how Jasmine started modeling for print media. (Which in her mind is pretty much the easiest gig ever. She just has to sit/ stay/ look, and she earns treats.)

Jaz has been on TV over 29 times now! (Which is mind-boggling to me) Not just in the USA, but also in Japan, England, and Denmark as well. Here’s a list of all her TV appearances.

She gets on TV a lot because either I find them or they find me. For example, Jasmine’s trick videos are getting really popular on YouTube. So I get contacted through YouTube a lot asking for permission for different show to use Jasmine’s videos.

I also hear about different “Top Dog” trick contests and will submit Jasmine’s videos. This is how she got to perform live on Good Morning America last year. They had a “Dog verses Dog” contest, where they asked viewers to submit trick videos. Jaz was a finalist and they flew us out to NYC to perform live at Times Square. Animal Planet also had a show last year called Who Let The Dogs Out-- which was a nationwide search for America’s most talented dog. I sent in a video, and she was a finalist there too. And they flew us out to Hollywood, CA to perform live at Universal Studios. Jasmine got 2nd place on that show. For the record, I would rather not be on TV. I would rather the camera just focus on Jasmine. But sometimes she needs a chauffeur and assistant to carry all her props. (That’s why I tag along.)

And last but not least, Jasmine is popular on YouTube because for the last 5 years, we’ve just built up a network of friends. It hasn’t come all at once. It’s come from years of building relationships with people, and networking. And being kind, friendly, and encouraging to all other trick dog trainers. To me, it’s not a competition who has the “best trick dog”. This is just a fun hobby for me. So we have lots of friends who share our videos, and follow our adventures on Jasmine’s blog.

How did Jasmine get involved with dog therapy work at the hospital?

I’ve always been taught to find a way to make a difference in the world. I got the idea because when my grandma was in the hospital, she had a therapy dog come to visit her. And it made such a difference. Just having that little dog in her room brought her such joy and happiness, and provided comfort and a much needed escape from the hospital environment. I thought about it a lot. Jasmine knows a ton of tricks, and she is so good with people. I just felt like she could be such a good therapy dog. And she has.

Her tricks bring laughter and smiles amid the children’s hospital. (I always go to the pediatric floors- because they seem to get the most out of Jasmine’s visits.) The kids absolutely adore her. They love her tricks and visits. And she loves the treats and attention, so it’s a win-win.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Jaz loves her squeaky bone. (It’s a ragged orange bone that I got her when she was a puppy.) She has other toys, but she always comes back to her squeaky bone. It even comes with us when we travel. (It’s like her teddy bear.)

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

None of the above. Jaz is really good with cats and people. We live in Arizona, so she hasn’t really seen many squirrels.

What is Jasmine's best quality?

She just loves everybody. She’s a total sweetheart. Even if people don’t like her, she still loves them. (She has taught me unconditional love.)

If Jasmine could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I think we have a pretty good relationship. If Jaz could talk, she would probably tell you that I should quit my job and spent more time with her. (She doesn’t quite grasp the fact that my paycheck buys her treats each month.)

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Jasmine could speak, which actor should do her voice?

I had to ask Jasmine’s Facebook friends this question, because I had no idea. The majority of the people said Reese Witherspoon. And I like that answer too. I think that fits.

If Jasmine could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

I want to know how much she understands of what I say. Because I’ve read that some dogs can understand up to 2,000 words. (about the equivalent of a toddler.) However, I don’t really believe that about Jasmine. I think she understands a lot more. She’s almost too smart for her own good!

Visit Jasmine's blog, watch her on YouTube, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

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