Jim, the underdog turned wonder dog
Compared to his litter mates, all born from a champion, Jim, as a pup, didn’t seem to have what it was going to take to be a hunting dog, so a Louisiana breeder, back in 1925, let him go at half price.
At home in Missouri with his new owner, Sam VanArsdale, young Jim didn’t take to the training, preferring to lay in the shade and watch the other dogs go through drills.
That was just the first of many surprises. Jim, a Llewellin Setter, would go on to become a nationally recognized hunting dog, an expert on a few other things as well, and, as some tell it, exhibit something close to superpowers..
One day, the legend goes, VanArsdale, weary from hunting, said to Jim “Let’s go over and rest a bit under that hickory tree.” Jim led the way — not to just any tree, but to a hickory. VanArsdale asked Jim to go to a walnut, which he did. Then a cedar, which he did. Then to a stump, which he did, and then to a tin can. Again — though he hadn’t been taught any of those words — he did.
According to the website for Jim the Wonder Dog, he could locate a car by make, color, state of origin, or a license number. From a crowd he could select the “man who sells hardware”, and the one who “takes care of sick people”, or the “visitor from Kansas City”.
“He carried out instructions given to him in any foreign language, shorthand, or Morse Code. He was capable of predicting the outcome of future events. He chose the winner of seven Kentucky Derbies, The World Series of baseball and the sex of unborn babies.”
After a performance in 1935, an article was written about his skills, first referring to him as “Jim the Wonder Dog.” Jim performed at the Missouri State Fair, was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and appeared before a joint session of the Missouri Legislature that was called to witness his talents.
Though Van Arsdale spoke only English, Jim seemed to understand, and follow commands, in any language. A University of Missouri veterinarian once said that Jim “possessed an occult power that might never come again to a dog in many generations.”
In 1999, a park in the town of Marshall was opened in his honor, just across from what used to be the Ruff Hotel (seriously), where Jim lived with VanArsdale, its manager.
At “Jim the Wonder Dog Memorial Garden,” there’s a bronze statue of him. More recently, a building has been procured that will serve in part as a Jim the Wonder Dog Museum.
And that, believe it or not, is the story of Jim.
(Photos: From Jim the Wonder Dog website)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, dog, dogs, genius, gifted, hunting dogs, jim, jim the wonder dog, llewellin setter, marshall, memorial garden, missouri, museum, pets, powers, predictions, ruff hotel, saline county, sam vanarsdale, skills, under dog, underdog, wonder dog