Thursday, May 14, 2009
Jim the Wonder Dog
More than 70 years after his death, people still visit his grave. Jim's not a poet, artist, or scholar, just a plain old black and white Llewellin Setter. But in his day, he gained celebrity status.
Recently a friend asked me if I'd heard of Jim the Wonder Dog. A faint recollection stirred, but only until I did an Internet search, did I recall the story.
Jim belonged to a man who lived in Marshall, Missouri, named Sam Van Arsdale. He noticed that his faithful hunting dog had an uncanny ability to understand his words. Sam could say, "Let's sit under that hickory tree", and Jim unerringly found a hickory tree and sat down. Surprised, Sam named other items. Jim picked out each one without fail.
Sam told a few people and the story spread. He began to take Jim around the area to put on demonstrations of his talent. Jim gained more notoriety, whereupon researchers from various universities decided to test the dog. Jim showed his ability to pick out colors (dogs are supposed to be color blind). He could pick out numbers. He could understand and respond to words spoken in other languages. Upon complete examination and testing, no explanation for Jim's uncanny skills could be found. He was pronounced the smartest dog that ever lived.
Sadly, Jim died at the age of 12. His grave in the Ridge Park Cemetery (a people cemetery!) has a marker that simply reads, "Jim the Wonder Dog, March 10, 1925-March 18, 1937". Flowers always decorate the stone.
An amazing story...about an amazing dog.