Jim the Wonder Dog


In 2017, the General Assembly designated “Jim the Wonder Dog” Missouri’s official state wonder dog. A Llewellyn setter born in 1925, Jim first gained notoriety for his hunting prowess. Legend has it that he tracked over 5,000 birds, a total no other dog has ever achieved. Owner Sam Van Arsdale also noticed Jim exhibited a wide range of talents not typically associated with dogs. He could identify a car on the street if told the license plate number, recognize unknown people in a crowd if given a description and carry out almost any instruction, whether spoken or written, in English or another language, by Morse code and even shorthand. Jim even had psychic powers, correctly predicting the gender of unborn babies and seven Kentucky Derby winners! Not suffering from stage fright, he performed before the Missouri Legislature and the University of Missouri’s students and faculty. Jim passed away in 1937 and is buried in Marshall, Missouri’s Ridge Park Cemetery, where caretakers say his grave is one of the most visited.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.113.  Jim the Wonder Dog designated as Missouri’s wonder dog. – The dog known as “Jim the Wonder Dog” is designated as Missouri’s wonder dog. (L. 2017 S.B. 376)

approved 23 June 2017
effective 28 August 2017


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

symbols/MS482_Digital005converted.jpg symbols/TampaTribune_Sun02-19-1933_Part2_p8_edited.jpg symbols/RG003-51_5B-3-8_02_08.jpg


Additional Resources:

Ferguson, Henry. “Jim, the Wonder Dog.” Missouri Life 3, no. 5 (November-December 1975): 18-23.

Ferguson, Henry N. “Jim – the Wonder Dog.” Rural Missouri 32, no. 4 (April 1979): 4-5.

Figley, Marty Rhodes. The True Story of Jim the Wonder Dog. Oklahoma City, OK: The RoadRunner Press, 2017.

Gilbert, Joan. “It’s Doggone Unbelievable Memory of Missouri’s Famous Jim Is Preserved in Marshall Park.” The Midwest Traveler 72, no. 5 (July/August 2000): 42.

Mitchell, Clarence Dewey. Jim, the Wonder Dog. Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance and Co., 1942.

Mueller, Larry. “Jim, the Wonder Dog.” Outdoor Life 53, no. 9 (August 1985): 53, 95-99.

Rhodes, Richard. “Of Dogs.” Harper’s Magazine 242, no. 1451 (April 1971).

Roberts, John W. “Folklore of the Precocious Canine:  Jim the Wonder Dog.” Missouri Folklore Society Journal 3 (1981): 59-69.

Star staff. “Dog Obeys Any Order Spoken Or Written by Its Master.” Weekly Kansas City Star, January 27, 1932, 3.

Vance, Joel M. “A Couple of Well-known Dogs.” Missouri Conservationist 51, no. 12 (December 1990): 3-4. Read this article for free on Missouri Digital Heritage here.

Taylor, Jack C. “Incredible, but Vouched For.” Our Dumb Animals 64, no. 3 (October 1932): 151.


Back to State Symbols Main Page