The walk from my house at the top of Fourth Street to the marina at the Shore Building where I keep my boat is only a scant 900 metres and, according to Google Maps, should take roughly eleven minutes to complete. It’s nearly a straight downhill shot, with one left-hand turn required off of Fourth street and onto Main, then a slight deviation to the right, down the ramp and onto the docks where my vessel is slipped. Theoretically, it’s pretty straightforward. But as any Tofino local will tell you - in reality it’s rarely that simple.
I sauntered down from my place last weekend intent on spending the afternoon working on some maintenance projects on the boat. I had my golden retriever Jenny Mustard with me, off leash for the time being. It was around 2:30 pm when I left home.
Jenny Mustard typically thinks that as we descend Fourth street we’re going to play fetch in the field behind the school, so it wasn’t long before she was running ahead to suss out the situation. By the time I caught up with her she’d already stolen a ball from some of the neighbourhood kids trying to play soccer.
Despite my attempts to call her away she ran great circles away from the pack of children, who all gave chase from behind. The kids giggled and laughed at Jenny as they scolded her for taking their ball. Unfortunately this is the kind of behaviour that only serves to egg Jenny on.
After fifteen minutes of watching the chase play out I’d finally had enough and marched towards Jenny, condemning her actions with a deep and chastising voice. Jenny, sensing the sudden change in mood, elected to follow her instincts. She released the ball to a chorus of screams from the children and made for the exit at the other end of the field. I had no choice but to follow.
By the time I caught up with her again she lay panting on the grass at the corner of Fourth and Gibson. As soon as I approached she rolled onto her back and splayed out all four of her legs, I assume as some sort of apology. I took advantage of her vulnerability and reached out with the leash. Fighting the urge to form a noose around her neck I simply clipped the leash to her collar and away we went. Time check, 3:07 pm.
We made it exactly two short Tofino blocks to the four-way stop at the intersection of Campbell and Fourth Street before we encountered our next delay. Before we could cross the intersection Jenny’s nose caught whiff of the nice family who was dining on the patio at Wolf in the Fog and before I could react spun us both around to hoover up the food that the couples young children had dropped onto the street. Of course the family all had to stop eating and spend a few minutes petting Jenny.
With a good ear scratching and petting under her belt Jenny and I departed once again towards the marina. We made it across the intersection and almost past Tofino Fishing and Trading before I noticed that Jenny had a stuffed dinosaur in her mouth.
Making a U-turn we headed back to the family dining at Wolf where I apologized profusely for the fact that Jenny had decided to “borrow” their child’s stuffed toy. They all laughed as I pried the dinosaur from Jenny’s mouth. I gave Jenny a cold look and silently cursed the furry kleptomaniac. Time check, 3:33 pm.
Jenny and I crossed the intersection for the third time and were just about to pass Kuma when I realized the error of my ways. Jenny suddenly bolted and with a burst of energy yanked the leash from my hands.
Sure enough, I found her at the back entrance to Kuma with her nose firmly planted against the jam of the door. My partner Andrea is the GM of the restaurant and our good friend Simon is the chef. In fact the whole place is staffed with friends soft to the advances of our golden retriever. It goes without saying that Jenny Mustard knows the place well.
It didn’t take long before the back door opened up and chef Simon had a few treats to share. Jenny showered kisses on Simon, Andrea and any staff member that poked their head out to say hi. I stood in the parking lot watching the fury ball work her magic as treat after treat came sneaking out the back door. That damn dog knows how to work a crowd.
It took some effort but I finally dragged Jenny out of there and actually managed to make the turn onto Main street without further interruption. A distance of about 50 metres. Time check, 4:01 pm.
We continued to walk towards the marina when my phone rang. I reached to answer it just as we passed Sea Monster Noodle, another treat-friendly Jenny hangout. I saw chefs Cam and Thor light up as they caught sign of Jenny’s golden prance but managed to hold onto the leash and yank Jenny away just in time. I waved to Cam and Thor as a way of saying ‘we’ll stop in next time around’. They waved back but looked disappointed. Jenny gave me a similar look.
Distracted by the conversation I was having on the phone I subconsciously walked into our booking office at Ocean Outfitters instead of heading straight to the docks. Cue the throngs of customers and the all-too-friendly staff who love to see Jenny walk in the door.
I let go of the leash and watched Jenny Mustard work the crowd while I talked fishing with a client who called looking for a report. The salmon and halibut were biting, I told them, and the weather was good. Ultimate Adventures were popular this season, and for good reason. They’d be doing themselves a favour by booking a trip because availability doesn’t last long and there’s no better place to be than out on the water in Tofino during the summer months.
I hung up with the client and went to collect Jenny from the crowd of people who were all taking turns petting and scratching her ears. We made our way towards the door and the staff and customers all said goodbye and thanks for stopping in….to Jenny Mustard. I swear sometimes I’m just the guy on the other end of the leash.
Finally, Jenny and I made it to the boat. I started on the maintenance while the dog curled up in the corner of the deck and went promptly to sleep - obviously exhausted from all of the treats and attention. Time check, 4:35 pm. Over two hours from the time we left the house.
The moral of the story is when you’re factoring in how long it’s going to take you to get from point A to point B in Tofino this summer, take what Google tells you with a grain of salt.
- Captain Josh Temple