The story of Jasmine, a 4-year-old blue brindle pit bull from Woodside, has the trajectory of a rags to riches tale, and though she wore no rags, she did accumulate riches, of a kind.
With the help of her owner, Nan Daley, Jasmine -- a rescue dog of a notorious breed who lacked social skills when introduced to the Daley household -- has advanced to a top tier of accomplishment in obedience training.
Jasmine and Ms. Daley were among 134 dog/owner teams invited to the 2016 AKC National Obedience Championship on March 19 and 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and they finished among the top 50 competitors, Ms. Daley said.
Obedience competitions challenge dogs with a series of tests, including finding and carrying away a dumbell imbued with its owners scent from a pile of identical dumbells, jumping over an obstacle set to the height of the dog's withers, and responding to commands at a distance. "It's the highest level of obedience in the AKC," Ms. Daley said.
Jasmine entered the contest in the All-American category, intended for dogs of mixed heritage, though Ms. Daley said she thinks Jasmine is a purebred Staffordshire terrier the term of art the American Kennel Club uses to refer to a pit bull.
The most common competitors at this event are golden retrievers and border collies, Kennel Club spokesperson Brandi Hunter said. Dogs entered as All Americans rarely place in top 50, and the last time it happened was in 2011, she said.
Obedience contests have nothing to do with looks, Ms. Daley said. If they did, Jasmine would flunk on account of her one floppy ear, she said.
When Jasmine arrived at the Daleys three years ago, dropped off by a friend of her daughter's, it was supposed to be for no more than a day. Then the owner said he no longer wanted her. "Oh, great," Ms. Daley recalled thinking. Should she take her to the Humane Society, or have her trained to be more adoptable?
Ms. Daley, who is retired from a career in real estate, chose training through the Canine Good Citizen program. "The faster I got her trained and got the certificate, the faster I could get her out of the house," she recalled thinking. It didn't work out that way. "I kind of switched sides," she said.
Both she and her dog loved the training, Ms. Daley said. Jasmine learned quickly and earned the advanced title of Utility Dog in May 2015, Ms. Daley said.
With her first experiences living as a guard dog marooned in a backyard, Jasmine had missed out on some basic dog experiences, Ms. Daley said. "She had never been on a walk before and didn't know to go potty on a walk. She was startled by bikes and even a fire hydrant," Ms. Daley said. "Now, two years later, our walks are her favorite thing to do!"
The two work on some aspect of obedience training every day, Ms. Daley said. Jasmine has no guard-dog duties. "We have an alarm for that," Ms. Daley said. The dog sleeps with the couple at night, and naps with the long-haired cat Andromeda. Jasmine gets upset only when she is left behind, Ms. Daley said.
"Her favorite things to do is lick," she said. "I tell people I haven't been kissed like this since high school."
Her goal: "I'm trying to change people's mind so that not everyone thinks (pit bulls) are all bad," Ms. Daley said. "You can have a pit bull and have a very good family member."