the Wonder Dog
March 10, 1925, March 18, 1937
Jim the Wonder
Dog - Memorial Park and burial place Memorial Park and Ridge Park
From I-70, go north on HY 65. Take Business 65 through Marshall. Stay on Bus. 65/Odell Street to Yerby street, then east on Yerby. The road turns to the left at the stone and gated entrance to the cemetery. Memorial Park is one block west of the town square.)
"Jim" attained international fame with his uncanny abilities over his short lifetime of twelve years and eight days. Jim was a Llewellyn Setter, born in a kennel in Louisiana. He had been given as a gift to Mr. Van Arsdale, operator of the Ruff Hotel in Marshall.
Many articles and at least two books have been written, and are still being written, but the story below comes from a family member and is presented here for educational purposes.
Vanarsdale Family 1
By Ray VanArsdale
are of Dutch descent. They first settled in Boyle county,
Gene F. married Mae
Davison and they were the parents of six children, Mildred,
This is a very short story of a man and his dog, a dog in a class by himself. Jim was truly a wonder dog for his performances are beyond explanation. Sam VanArsdale, his owner was as mystified by Jims ability as anyone and would certainly have welcomed a theory that Jim did not disprove in a short time.
Jim was Llewellyn
English setter from a line of champion field dogs. He was born in
the Taylor Kennels in
A short time later Mr.
VanArsdale came to
Jim Chose Field
At first Jim was somewhat a disappointment as he did not trouble himself if there were no birds in the area. Mr. VanArsdale soon noticed that Jim was quite eager, if the birds were there, and soon he was asking Jim Where are we going to hunt today, here or across the road? Jim choosing his field, always got his master a day of good shooting. He was a slow and careful worker, never frightening the birds. He was never known to chew a dead bird, which he always brought to his master, no matter who shot it. One day, while leaping over a fence, he sighted a covey, froze into a strut in mid-air and came down in a perfect point.
You may find these stories about Jim hard to believe, but they are facts, to which many eyewitnesses will swear. Jim would never work for anyone but his master, who treated Jim as politely as he would a person.
Jim would pick out colors a person was wearing, although authorities tell us dogs are color blind. He would go down the street a block and pick out a car by its owner, color, make, or license plate. He would pick out a variety of tree or shrub, name of a business, or the occupation or home of a stranger.
Answered Written Questions
As Jim could not speak, a variety of answers were written on slips of paper and Jim would pick out the right slip. Mr. VanArsdale often confused the questioners by telling them to hold the slip in their hand and Jim to do what was on the paper. He always did, whether the question was in shorthand, Morse code, or a foreign language, none of which Mr. VanArsdale could read.
One day a lady
accompanied by young girls, came into the hotel. When told that
two were sisters, the other a cousin, Jim went straight to the
cousin. Another day Jim was asked to point to out someone whose
name was the same as
One day Mr. VanArsdale, knowing a certain friend had a flask in his pocket and thinking to have a laugh on his friend, said to Jim: Where is the man who has a bottle in his pocket? Imagine Mr. VanArsdales surprise when Jim went to a second friend and put his paw on number two. Sure enough he had one, also.
Jim always traveled with Mr. and Mrs. VanArsdale and stayed in the room with them. If the hotel manager objected, Jim would be asked to show where the cash register was: what you put your valuables in; where you could get a road map; where you could call a friend, or where Mr. VanArsdale could buy his cigars. No manager refused after such a demonstration.
Jim was examined at the
Jim was taken before a Greek class and given several requests in Greek, which he successfully performed. Given another slip, Jim just looked at it and didnt move. Mr. VanArsdale gave it to a student and asked him to translate it. The youth said, It is only the Greek alphabet. Some doubting Thomas is convinced now, I am sure.
Up to now, someone has always known the answer to the requests. But these next stories will disprove the theory of mind reading.
Picked Winners Too
In 1936, just before the
World series, Jim was asked to choose the winner of the series.
He correctly picked the Yankees. In the same year he chose
Master at Fault
Sometimes Mr. VanArsdale
thought Jim had failed to respond correctly but, on checking,
found himself at fault with his interpretation of the request.
For seven years Jim correctly picked the winners of the Kentucky
Derby. His selections were sealed in an envelope, put in a safe
and not opened until the
On a number of occasions Jim was asked to tell a mother-to-be whether to expect a girl or boy. One young woman was shocked when he chose both slips. Sure enough twins were born, a girl and a boy.
Jim died at
Jim was a true Southern gentleman, always quiet and gentle and dignified. He was not a trick dog, but one quick to understand and respond to the wishes of his master, whom he loved intensely. No one could explain his quality of response, his master no more than anyone else. He was just Jim to all who knew and respected him.
Transcribed from the History of
Jim the Wonder DogPages 142-143
to Vicki for the transcription.
Visit this website because
Jim's memory lives on in Marshall, Mo and the
"Friends of Jim"
plus black and white photos of Jim on this website
His grave site is listed
in the "Find A Grave" website
There are some touching memorials here for a "Wonder Dog" who will never be forgotten.
other recent articles
The "final chapter" graphic was found on the net and the website URL unfortunately was not noted. Any objections to the use of it, it will be removed. No intentional © violation is intended. used here for educational purposes only.