“There are new lands in the inner psychic realms. The individual meets the unknown, the wilderness with all its dangers. To go such a way always means transformation. And the dog would be the one that knows the right way. It accompanies men and women into their initiation, leads them to the transition from the old to the new attitude, from the out molded to the new life. When the dog appears in dreams, it is commonly (if not always) the inner guide in the process of transformation.” 


Let's Take A Journey

As the fishermen of the 16 th Century lug their nets out of the chilly waters of Newfoundland, their hands cold and their breath heavy, the day is coming to an end. As the day’s catch is collected, they notice the last net is caught on a rock close to shore. As weather is brewing and the air is getting colder, a loud verbal command is given. All of a sudden a dark image runs through the fog, over the jagged rocks and leaps into the water to retrieve the net and save the catch of the day. As the waves crash against the rocks in waters that are beyond frigid, the fishermen wipe their eyes and watch the miraculous work of the St. Johns Water Dog. As the dog drags out the net, the fish still intact, we get our first glimpse of a personality that is excited,determined and, to put it simply, dedicated.

Fast-forward to the 19 th Century to a little known area in Labrador, England, and the St. Johns Water Dog transforms. Welcome to the brave new world of the Labrador Retriever!

With teeth clenched tightly around the netting, the Labrador uses his webbed feet to grip the rock’s edge while his head bobs in and out of the water covered by a thick heavy fog. The crashing waves are fierce and are pulling him out and under as the fishermen yell to the dog from shore to just come back. The fishermen lose sight of the dog and realize he cannot hear them. Shaking their heads, they start to leave. But the Labrador has one intention and one mission. It is so primal and so real he cannot escape it.


“Retrieve the net, retrieve the net, retrieve the net” he hears over and over, an internal command that cannot be ignored. His courage persists and he declares to himself, “Just one last tug and I will have it.” As that last significant pull happens, the net starts to break, and with all his might, the Labrador pulls the net off the jagged rock and through the ocean debris. Part of his mission has been completed, but now it’s time to get back to shore as the frigid water is impeding the dog’s breath. He no longer hears the calls of the fishermen.


In The Secret Language of Dogs, Kesler explains the importance of learning how to listen to your animal by learning to read the behavioral and energetic traits of your dog.

In moments like this, the Labrador must start to channel a connection to his solar plexus for an increased push of support. He propels forward with great speed as if tapping into a reserve fuel tank. With this extra rush of adrenalin, the Labrador can’t feel the cuts from the sharp edges of the net which have sliced the inside of his mouth. Being in such cold water is actually an aid to cleaning those very wounds. Slowly swimming towards shore with the catch filled net in tow, a large wave starts rumbling behind him. The Labrador’s swimming increases. He knows from the feel of the energy of the ocean below him, and the time that has past so far, that it will not be much longer before he could be defeated. And there is nothing a Labrador Retriever likes less than being defeated! The ocean is stirring and the water is getting more unmanageable. Yet, his breath and determination do not waiver. Only feet from his destination, with the waves diminishing, the Labrador ducks his head under one more time and jumps onto the shore,the net dangling from his tattered mouth.The snow is falling now, and having given in to the fact that the Labrador would not return this time, most of the fishermen have gone into the village for a drink. All but one. Left on shore is one lone fisherman who values and knows the true magic of his Retriever and would never give up on him. It is Edmund, the Labrador’s human companion, friend, wizard and soul connection.

As the old man waits on shore, his beard smothered in the freshly fallen snowflakes and his nervous fingers sticking out of his worn out leather gloves, he slaps the side of his leg as he calls the Labrador’s name over and over again, “Augustus, Augustus, come on boy, Augustus!” Now down on his knees, Edmund opens his arms wide as he sees, with amazement, Augustus emerging through the fog, belated but strong, net in tow.

“I thought I almost lost you out there! You take a piece of my heart everytime I send you out in that water, do you know that?”

Edmund gives him a strong but quick hug as Augustus licks his hand. Yet this time when Augustus gives him a lick, something very different happens, something that perplexes Edmund. He looks into Augustus’ eyes and questions,

“Did you just say something to me Augustus? I thought I heard you say something. It could be that too many years at sea are getting the better of us, but I swear I just heard you actually speak to me!”

Augustus backs up and sits down face to face with Edmund. They are lost in each other’s eyes as if the fog and snow and biting wind don’t exist. The old man is in such a tranquil yet bazaar state that he can’t even turn to answer as the other fishermen come running and call out to them. In fact, Edmund can’t remember the last time he was drawn into such a moment of peace in a very long time.

Edmund’s hands start to warm up instantly. Augustus shakes the snow off his face, and before Edmund can understand what is happening, without voice, Augustus energetically answers,

“I know you Edmund. I think it is time to let you know that.”

Edmund is floating, lost in a moment of time he has only read about in fairy tales or heard from legend in town. For a minute, Edmund thinks he is actually dead.

“Something is wrong here. I must have crossed over to another life!”

“Edmund, Edmund, get the dog. It’s time to go and get out of the cold. Edmund!”

Edmund is jolted back by the yelling coming from the approaching fishermen. But before the fishermen reach them, Edmund brings Augustus close to him, holds his head, and as tears run down his face, he whispers,

“This is our secret Augustus. I don’t know if I believe in magic or talking dogs, but I know I believe in you. And that’s all I need to know.”

Then, as if trying to make sense of it all, Edmund shrugs and says,

“We are probably just tired and our minds are being tricked by the cold. This will all go away by morning.”

As they both stand up, with one hand gently resting on the top of Augustus’ head, Edmund waves to the fishermen to let them know they are both alright. What the fishermen will never know is that Edmund and Augustus had just shared a connection they were destined for. A divine moment born of legend, one would say, if one were to ever say such preposterous things.

-Jocelyn Kessler

Further Reading- A little Bit of History

jocelyn kesslerComment