On a recent trip to see friends in Missouri, I challenged them to give me a bit of local folklore…
This is what they, dear reader, gave to you and I:
Jim the Wonder Dog (1925-1937), from Marshall Missouri.
My “facts” come courtesy of the website jimthewonderdog.org; I will not question the journalistic integrity or credentials of a website of that high of a pedigree. Let’s proceed:
Originally hailing from Louisiana, Jim was pretty wonderful.
How wonderful you ask?
Outdoor Life Magazine called Jim the “the Hunting Dog of the Country”.
Not too bad, right?
Dr. A. J. Durant, director of the School of Veterinary Medicine, conducted public tests with Jim, and concluded Jim “possessed an occult power that might never come again to a dog in many generations.”
Occult Powers? Jim, what trash have you been getting into?
And last, but definitely not least, came the Missouri Legislature…but we’ll get back to them in a bit.
Apparently, Jim could sniff out the sex of unborn babies.
Jim was also fluent in multiple languages, able to obey commands in unfamiliar tongues, made stranger by the fact that Sam Van Arsdale, his best friend/stage manager, only spoke English.
If you were the betting type, Jim was your friend:
He picked the winner of the Kentucky Derby seven years in a row, and predicted the Yankees would win the 1936 World Series, which they did.
Jim could find a car by make, color, even by license plate; he could select people out of a crowd, from healers to hardware dealers to visitors from different cities.
By 1935, Jim was regular performer. It was in 1935, displaying his “occult powers” at the Kemmerer Hotel in Kemmerer Wyoming (that’s a long way from Missouri) that the local paper dubbed him “The Wonder Dog”.
From there, Jim was headed to the big leagues: A joint session of Congress.
Before the Missouri Legislature, Jim demonstrated the ability to follow commands…in Morse Code.
Following this, and a stint in the Sedalia State Fair, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! came a knocking.
Alas, not long after, so did the Reaper.
Jim left us on March 18th, 1937.
The take away?
There are two options here:
A) Either people (including psychologists, veterinarians, news reporters and legislators) in the 1930s were far more gullible than we (naively) consider ourselves to be, or
B) Jim was wonderful.
(of course, there is always an option C) that supposes a little bit of both, but why be moderate when given such beautifully extreme options?)
I leave the choice to you dear reader…
And an afterthought: should you find yourself in Marshall Missouri, at the former site of Sam Van Arsdale’s (Jim’s owner) hotel, you’ll find a large park dedicated to him, with a commemorative statue.
Think what you like, but that, at the very least, is kind of…