Jim the Wonder Dog – Almost Human Intelligence

If you are in Marshall, Missouri (USA), go and  see “Jim the Wonder Dog Memorial Garden” and a wonderful bronze statue dedicated to this incredible animal.



The story of Jim begins on March 10, 1925 when he was born into a litter of LLewllyn setters. Jim was sold to Sam VanArsdale for less than his brothers and sisters. He was considered less valuable.   Jim’s looks proved to be deceptive because later he would be featured in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not.”

Jim with his owner, Sam

Jim with his owner, Sam

The Hunting Dog of the Country (USA)

When it was time for training Jim to hunt, Sam sighed. Jim just lay in the shade watching the other dogs train. Sam took Jim out intending to teach him himself. To Sam’s utter amazement, Jim came to a covey of quail and stood still (called a point) and waited for Sam’s gun to shoot. Sam told him to “fetch” and Jim came back with the bird. Sam was an avid hunter and kept meticulous records of Jim’s retrieval of birds which exceeded 5,000. Outdoor Life Magazine termed him, “The Hunting Dog of the Country.”


The Incredible Intelligence of Jim

It was a very hot day and Sam said casually, “Jim, let’s rest under the hickory tree.”   Now, there were many varieties of trees and Sam wanted to see if Jim really could distinguish a hickory tree. Sam ordered Jim to go to the black oak. He did.

Then, Sam ordered Jim to go to the following trees: walnut, cedar, white oak, sumac and even to a tin can. Jim obeyed.

Sam raced home and explained this uncanny ability to his wife, Pearl. She told Sam not to tell others, but he did!


Hotel Show

Sam managed the local hotel in Marshall, Missouri and he was proud to demonstrate Jim’s mysterious talent. Jim could go out on the street and identify a car by its make, colour, or license plate. In a crowd, Jim could locate a “Man who sells hardware” or a person who “takes care of sick people.” He carried out instructions given to him in foreign languages or in shorthand. He could understand Morse Code. One day, Sam told Jim to go to the girl with the red polka dot dress. Jim did not move. There were two girls with red polka dot dresses, but when Sam added, “with a red bow in her hair,” Jim approached the right girl.

The Powers of Prediction

Jim was very accurate when it came to predictions. He was able to predict the gender of an unborn baby and the number of kittens and their sex in a cat’s womb.

No Tricks

Jim underwent testing from various veterinarians and scientists.

His intelligence was authentic and baffling. One observer stated that Sam had asked Jim, “What would I do if I had a stomach ache?” Jim wagged his tail and wandered over to Dr. Savage, the town physician. He gently nudged the doctor.

He predicted Kentucky Derby Winners and one time located lost photos for Pearl by placing his paws on a dresser drawer.

Sam Turns Down Hollywood

Sam was offered $364,000 by a Hollywood Studio to use Jim for one year. Sam refused.

Jim the Wonder Dog Memorial Garden2003-0525-Libby-at-jim-the-Wonder-Dogs-grave

On March 18, 1937, Jim died. He was 12 years old. His death appeared in many newspapers and condolences flooded in to Sam and Pearl.   The memorial garden was built in 1999