Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog was started in 1997 to develop plans for the Jim the Wonder Dog Garden in Marshall. The organizing group consisted of representatives from Friends of Saline County and the Marshall Chamber of Commerce. After two years of effort to raise funds and develop plans for the park, it was completed in the spring of 1999.
A dedication of the garden was held on May 1, 1999. It included the unveiling of the sculpture of Jim created by Andy Davis, a sculptor from Columbia, Missouri. The garden was constructed on the site of the demolished Ruff Hotel where Jim and Sam VanArsdale lived in Marshall. The garden included a gazebo, interpretive signs depicting the story of Jim, the statue of Jim, and a water garden constructed by the Saline County Water Garden Club. Several people who saw Jim work shared their remembrances of their personal contacts with the dog.
Evelyn Counts was tireless in her efforts to raise money to build the garden. Walter Keith headed up the efforts to construct the garden. Other members of the committee included Donna Huston and Lee Bearden. Many volunteers worked to make the garden a success. Hundreds of people donated money to the garden and some purchased memorial bricks which are placed along the walkway through the garden.