It began 90 years ago in Marshall, Mo. Sam Van Arnsdale received a Llewellin Setter pup from a friend. He named the dog Jim and trained him to point quail.
“They say there were 5,000 birds killed with Jim,” says Larry Arrowood, who helps oversee the Jim the Wonder Dog Museum. “They stopped counting after that.”
While he was a skilled bird dog, Jim also had humanlike talents.
One day, while hunting, Van Arnsdale said to Jim, “Let’s go sit underneath that Hickory tree.” Jim went and sat under the tree as if he understood exactly what his owner had said. Surprised, Van Arnsdale told Jim to go sit under an oak tree—and he did.
Van Arnsdale was amazed the dog knew the difference in trees, so he said, “Jim, is there a tin can around here?” Guess what? Jim went and put his paw on the tin can.
Locals enjoyed putting Jim to the test, asking him to find a car with an out-of-state license plate or stand by the girl wearing the red dress. He honored each request without fail.
Van Arnsdale owned a hotel, and Jim remembered each and every guest. “If someone had stayed at the hotel before, Sam would ask Jim, ‘What room did this man stay in the last time he was here?’ and Jim would select the correct room,” Arrowood says.
Jim’s abilities even stretched to predicting the future. Seven years in a row, Jim picked the winner of the Kentucky Derby race. His selections were sealed so wagering would not be influenced by Jim’s predictions.
Veterinarians at the University of Missouri studied the dog and were amazed Jim could understand commands given in multiple languages.
Jim the Wonder Dog died in 1937. Van Arnsdale requested the dog be buried in Marshall’s Ridge Park Cemetery, which was denied because he was not human. Van Arnsdale bought a parcel of ground across from the cemetery and built a memorial for Jim. Several years later, the cemetery needed to expand and purchased the ground around Jim’s memorial. Now, Jim is officially buried alongside humans. His grave is the most visited site in Marshall.
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