Jim the Wonder Dog
This handsome Llewellyn setter sure could pick a winner. Shortly before Derby Day, his owner, Sam VanArsdale, would write the names of Derby entrants on slips of paper and then place them in front of the dog. After Jim sniffed his favorite, VanArsdale would put it away until the race was over. For seven years in a row, Jim made the right choice.
Jim’s ability to play the ponies was just one of the many things that endeared him to his two-legged neighbors in Marshall, Missouri. He could pick out cars by color, make and license plate. He could identify people and carry out commands in numerous languages. And he could hunt; VanArsdale said he stopped counting how many birds he bagged after 5,000.
He was written up in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, as well as in newspapers and magazines.
The Wonder Dog died in 1937 at the age of 12. But he has by no means been forgotten. In 1998, fans dedicated a small park to him on the site of the Ruff (we kid you not) Hotel, where he lived in downtown Marshall. Visitors can stroll through the flower garden, listen to the waterfall and pat the nose on a bronze statue of Jim. (The real Jim is buried nearby in Ridge Park Cemetery.)