Jack Russell Terriers are known for being highly energetic and extremely smart. But one pup takes this to a whole new level. Meet Jesse, an 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, the viral YouTube star that can perform 400 tricks and counting. This amazing dog can do everything from running backwards over a long distance and doing walking handstands to playing the piano and putting his nose into a bucket of water and blowing bubbles.
Heather Brook had always wanted a dog of her own, ever since she could remember. “I fell in love with the Jack Russell Terrier breed after living in England and taking care of a little dog named Frasier; who of course was a Jack Russell Terrier,” she explains. For her 16th birthday, back in 2005, Brook’s parents made her dreams come true when they surprised her with an adopted Jack Russell pup of her own. She named him Jesse and the duo has been inseparable ever since. “We’ve been together for 11 years now and from that day on, Jesse and I have been best friends,” she explains.
Shortly after she received Jesse, Brook realized that her new furry friend had an uncanny ability to perform tricks. In fact, he even learned his first skill all by himself. “When he was 9-weeks old, he taught himself how to sit up. He came up to me for attention, and sat up on his hind legs. I thought it was the cutest thing ever!” Brook exclaims. “It was easy to put that trick on cue because I could see him thinking about doing it, so I would say ‘Sit up’ right before he would do it on his own. Now I know this technique is called ‘capturing.’”
Learning a Variety of Tricks
From that moment on, Brook began teaching Jesse a plethora of tricks. “I realized Jesse was a super smart little guy! It’s almost like Jesse made the decision to start tricks because after that, we started working on more and more tricks and Jesse kept picking them up really quickly,” she reveals. The first trick that she led him through was ‘rollover,’ and he progressed from there.
To teach Jesse his new behaviors, Brook used pieces of cheddar cheese and lunch meat. Whenever her pup was learning and/or mastered a treat, she rewarded him with the food. “I also used treats that were Jesse’s favorites, including hot dog pieces, spray cheese, homemade cooked chicken with a dash of rosemary and oregano, as well as dehydrated beef jerky,” she explains. Brook also uses the clicker training method to occasionally mark specific moments in his training.
Training Jesse seemed to come naturally to Brook; and it didn’t hurt that her dog was such an easy subject to teach. “I could look at a finished trick and think up the steps to teach the trick,” she says. “The majority of the time was Jesse figuring it out on his own.” And whenever she ran out of training ideas, Brook would look on YouTube to get ideas of ways that she could take Jesse’s training to the next level.
Today, Jesse can perform a massive variety of tricks including jumping rope with Brook, hiding in a suitcase when she says, “I’m packing my suitcase,” weaving through her legs, hiking up his hind legs, and skateboarding on his hind legs with his front paws in the air. He can also do a somersault, ride a motorized car by pushing the pedal with his back foot, rock a rocking horse, ride a scooter, walk atop a ball, and catch a ball with his front paws. He can even go shopping by loading his mini shopping cart and pushing it with his paws.
The Most Talented Dog in the World?
To capture Jesse’s personality on film, Brook began to make videos of her pup performing his favorite acts and she put them up on YouTube. To kick off his page, which she launched in 2007, the budding dog trainer created a one-minute montage of a few of her canine star’s tricks. The video quickly took off and today, Jesse’s page has garnered millions of views. In fact, his Useful Dog Tricks video has received 17.5 million views just on its own!
After the page took off, Jesse quickly became a canine star. “He has quite a lot of accomplishments for such a little guy,” Brook jokes. The energetic pup has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman twice and even jump roped with his owner on The Rachel Ray Show. He has also appeared in many commercials for Circle K, PetSmart, GAF Roofing, Purina, and the Virginia Lottery.
But Brooke is particularly excited about Jesse’s burgeoning film career. “Jesse’s biggest accomplishment is his movie series he just filmed this year; including the first two of the three-part movie series A Doggone Christmasand Doggone Hollywood,” says Brook. “Jesse is the star, hero dog, with the leading role and does some awesome and cute tricks and behaviors in the movie.”
Using His Fame for Good
One thing that Brook is most proud of is how she’s been able to leverage Jesse’s fame into animal-friendly endeavors. With the pup’s amazing talents and abilities, he has helped raise and donate over $10,000 to animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts throughout the years. “Jesse has performed at Jack Russell Fun Days to help raise money and encourage people to have more fun and do more things with their dogs. The Fun Days also have events were all the money raised goes to help the dogs in need through housing, food, blankets, and more,” notes Brook. The duo has also taken photos of rescue dogs to help boost their adoptability, and has used Jesse’s social media profile to help connect dogs with owners.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Jesse can currently perform over 400 tricks but he isn’t slowing down anytime soon. His owner is constantly coming up with new things to teach him and he is just as eager to learn. Brook jokes that the pup enjoys performing tricks so much that he’ll sometimes break into a routine of them on his own.
“Jesse’s happiness and eagerness to learn more tricks with a spark in his eye lets me know he is not only enjoying it, but also benefiting from the tricks,” she explains. “The reason we continually learn tricks is because of the enhanced communication and bond that comes from spending time together.”
Brook describes her furry companion as “happy go lucky – He always has a smile on his face, loves adventure, and is right by my side, ready to join in on any activity with a prance in his step, and a ‘go get ‘em’ attitude,” she explains. “Jesse is my best friend, heart dog, and constant companion; teaching and encouraging me to live each and every day to the fullest!”
Nicole Pajer is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, energetic Doberman, and rat terrier.