Columnists

In Loving Memory of Leanne Goggins
Posted by Staff on Nov 13, 2005 - 11:00:00 PM

In Loving Memory of Leanne Goggins  (1967 – 2004)

Rest your troubled mind now; you’re in God’s hands.

 

This is a letter I would like to share to mark the one year anniversary of her death.   It was given to her family by one of Leanne’s dog walking clients at the time of her passing.

 

Leanne loved dogs and dogs loved Leanne.   The one place you didn’t want to stand in our house was between our dog, Frida, and Leanne.  If we hadn’t adopted Frida we wouldn’t have known Leanne.   When I opened my heart to Frida, I had no idea what she’d drag through that small crevice.   Oh these things that grow out of the things that we give. 

 

Leanne started walking dogs about the time we adopted Frida, though “walking” doesn’t really describe what Leanne and Frida did together.  They spent most afternoons together, some mornings, occasional sunsets.  They ran.  They swam.  They drove around in the red Jeep.  They hiked.  God knows, they ate treats.   They went to the beach and to pool parties and to the Laurel Canyon Store for coffees and on errands and to walk other dogs.   James called Leanne Frida’s ‘teacher’ and we dubbed Frida the ‘teacher’s pet’.  We liked to think she was Leanne’s favorite, but Leanne’s gift was that all of Leanne’s clients thought their dog was Leanne’s favorite.  The dogs themselves didn’t care, of course, it was enough for them to just be with Leanne.  They piled into that red Jeep with the same reckless abandon they exhibited plowing into your heart.

 

To be in our house when the Jeep came up the street was a frightening experience.  It would start with the mere perk of an ear, the lift of an eyebrow, just a suggestion that perhaps Frida’d heard the Jeep.  Could it be?   A run to the window, ears fully engaged now…then a leap and midair-turn maneuver, with toenails scattering across the wood floors rushing to the front door.   And then the music would begin.   Frida doesn’t bark, but no other noise that her little 40 pound body could emit was spared.  Whining, yelping, drooling, shaking, jumping, scratching all brought together in the crazy cacophony that marked the Jeep’s arrival.   Out would jump Beulah, bounding – no other word for it, that’s what Beulah does – bounding up the walk and throwing herself against the outside of the front door, a thrust so full of excitement the door might well have given.  But lo and behold at precisely the same moment Frida would furiously throw her petite self against the inside, an opposite if not equal reaction, their dueling excitement enabling the door to maintain its stability.

 

When Leanne unlatched the door, everyone kissed and licked and sniffed and jumped around for a few minutes – I mean everyone – and then little Frida would make a bee-line for that Jeep.  Sometimes Leanne would drop by just to talk or drop something off, but that never stopped Frida from climbing right in the back of the Jeep.   Once Leanne drove by our house on her way to another appointment and Frida, who was lounging in the yard, started chasing the Jeep up the street.   Leanne had to slow down and let her jump in or Frida would have chased her clear into the next county.

 

At the end of each day, Leanne would leave us a written summary of the day’s events, sometimes with photographs of hikes or pool parties.  But the notes themselves were invariable.   To be sure, they’d include a report on Frida’s bodily functions.  Each day there’s also be an anecdote though.  A story.  A re-telling of the afternoon’s highlights.  Sometimes it was nothing more than:  ‘Frida’s cuddled in my lap as I’m writing this.’  Often it was a story about some dog following Frida around lovingly or a star sighting (‘Laurence Fishburne petted Frida today.’)  Imagine our pride.   There was a comfort to these notes, the tone and steadiness of them.   It reminded us each night when we got home that Frida had been in the presence of a whole lot of love, while we were out in the world toiling away.

 

I like to think that the gentle tone, the steadiness, and the warmth of Leanne’s communications reflected an inner peace she found with our Frida and with all of her dogs.  Dogs live in the present.  Perhaps when we’re with them they enable us to step out of time, as well, to stop ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  Perhaps this enabled Leanne to find a harmony she couldn’t find in the rest of her life.  The truth is, though, I don’t claim to know why Leanne was at peace with her dogs nor why she couldn’t find that harmony in the rest of her life.  I don’t know why Leanne loved dogs.   I don’t know why dogs loved Leanne.  I don’t know what will happen to Frida.   I don’t know where these things we meet and know briefly, as well as we can or they will let us, go.   I only know that I didn’t want Leanne to die.

 

Leanne loved dogs and dogs loved Leanne.   James says a dog’s love is uncomplicated.  I say:  so was Leanne’s.   If human beings are acceptable evidence, mustn’t what lies behind the world be at least as beautiful as Leanne?”

Bill Rubenstein