Folks in the city of 13,000 love Jim, a black and white Llewellin English setter who died in 1937 at the age of 12 — but not before becoming a Depression-era sensation. Marshall built a park off the town square to honor Jim. The dog is the only animal buried in the Ridge Park Cemetery.
Now comes state Rep. Joe Aull, a Democrat from (you will not be surprised to learn) Marshall, with House Bill 1863, to designate Jim as Missouri's official "historical dog."
The bill text says Jim "amazingly carried out commands based on identifying words such as tree variety, make, color, and license number of cars, and occupation or description of persons, whether such commands were given in a foreign language, shorthand, or Morse Code. In addition, Jim the Wonder Dog accurately predicted the winner of seven Kentucky Derbies, the World Series, and the gender of unborn babies. Featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not, Jim the Wonder Dog's fame spread across the United States."
Missouri already has 27 official state somethings, ranging from the state "lithologic emblem" (or "rock," mozarkite) to the official state dessert (the ice cream cone). Legislators love this kind of stuff.
But dogs are tricky. Everybody has one in the fight. When a bill was introduced in 2010 session to make the Newfoundland the "official state canine" (Lewis and Clark had one) it went nowhere. If Marshall wants to get this done, it'll take some serious campaign contributions.