In memory of Žana, the little poodle, always lively as pepper


”It’s never been Nani or Žana. It’s always been Nani with Žana.” (Dunja Vodopivec)


This is how we remember Nani and Žana, always side by side, inseparable.


I met them at the Canine Association’s training field in Vrhnika where they were attending agility course and at the same time through the ‘Tačke pomagačke’ society, where Nani and Žana were one of the first therapy pairs in Slovenia. In the nursing home in Vrhnika they helped numerous elderly people with lonely hearts, in kindergartens and schools they tirelessly taught the kids about the relationship to the dogs and harmony with nature. They were well-known by children and employees in the Pediatric Clinic in Ljubljana and in the University Rehabilitation Institute Soča, where Žana left big footprints with her tiny paws. When she pressed her warm furry head against the little patients in bed, their faces lit up and a big smile appeared across their faces. And how many tricks she mastered! She was more than excellent in obstacle course, she loved being petted and groomed, especially girls loved her doggy hair-do, she loved being taken around in a stroller and my personal favourite trick of hers was tidying up the toys. She would put them away with such fervor that she became a role model to all children in kindergarten, who would regularly put their toys away from her visit on. She also takes the credit for children teaching even their parents to pick up poop after puppies.


I joined them a few times at some of their lessons at school, kindergarten or institution and I especially remember one event at the World Dog Show in Celje a few years ago. Žana and Nani were- diligent as always-representing the Institute and distinguished themselves also in the hall full of audience. During one of their presentations which Žana did together with another dog, I wanted to demonstrate how to properly give a treat. It was intended for Žana but as the other dog, the golden retriever, was standing too close, Žana grudgingly yelped at her and in an instant, without me realising, snatched the treat from my hand. That little friendly fluff taught me never to offer a treat to two hungry sharks at once. Žana knew indeed what was good and she looked after her possessions well. As well as her Nani, I still remember how she came running out of the house to check who was coming over for a visit and then she huddled for a bit and gave a few kisses before hopping back on the floor and jumping around Nani.


It’s hard to imagine Nani without Žana, both always so full of life, playful, cheeky and yet gentle, caring and such busy bees. Even their hairstyles looked similar and as Nani is a seamstress, they often trotted a matching look. A perfect pair, so to speak.


Žana meant everything to Nani. During a short illness Nani stood by her side, like she always did, and cared for her selflessly. She didn’t mind getting up 10 or 15 times a night to take her outside to pee. In fact, she kept her clothes on all night not to waste any time.


Žana was the sweetheart of all the Nani’s family, the sweetheart of hundreds of children, the elderly, the sick and coincidental passers-by. She was an amazing therapy dog. She worked for full 11 years and in the recent times she helped an elderly gentleman who became blind. It was Žana who encouraged him to start reading again and they translated a book on dogs into the Braille just because of her. She and Nani were tireless, heart-felt and they performed their mission of a therapy pair with all their hearts.


Žana was Nani’s 50th birthday present from her two children and as she put it, it was the best present she has ever received. Along with the cutest puppy, she received amazing 14 years, a plethora of new acquaintances, new knowledge, new experiences and solid friendships.


Žana has left all these wonderful memories behind and now she is, without any pain, happily chasing with other departed pooches somewhere over the rainbow. I imagine she’s teaching them agility and carefully watches over her treats and toys. Be happy and hope you’re having a lovely time!


I firmly believe that Žana knows that Nani, her family and we all terribly miss her and we always will. There won’t be anyone like her ever again and we’ll never forget her. But she’d surely want Nani to be happy and cheerful, perhaps with a new furry ball in her lap.


Valentina and Dunja


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