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'Madame Dachshund' bred many a best-in-show

| Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 11:15 p.m.
Hannelore A. Heller, 87, of Murrysville died Friday, Feb. 7, 2014.

Hannelore Heller was so recognized among people who bred and showed dachshunds that she was known as “Madame Dachshund.”

“She was world-renowned in the field of dachshunds. She bred, raised and showed some of the top long-haired dachshunds for the last 50 years,” said longtime friend Sue Hauser. “Her dogs did a lot of winning in the show ring.”

Hannelore A. Heller died of congestive heart failure on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in her Murrysville home. She was 87.

Mrs. Heller bred and showed dachshunds for nearly 50 years all over the country — showing her dogs as well as those of others. Her passion for showing dachshunds became a full-time pursuit when she was in her 40s, and her husband was laid off from his job. She supported her family by doing obedience training for dogs and later showing and winning in competitions, Hauser said. Her type of dachshund, a Han-Jo, is used in breeding across the country.

“It was a hobby that turned into a career. The career was the showing and handling. It just so happened that she bred some of the top dachshunds as well,” Hauser said. “She won many, many best-in-shows. I think it was because of her ability to communicate with animals.

“People would bring their dogs to her and walk them, and then it was like a different dog when she was doing it.”

Born in Hamburg, Mrs. Heller was the eldest daughter of Theodore and Lita Abee. After World War II, she got a job working for the U.S. military as an interpreter. It was there she met her husband, Joseph Heller, an Army officer. They were married for 56 years before his death in 2004.

“My mother was small, and once she was working with a Great Dane and that dog was all over the place. She put it in its place. The dog knew how to behave around her. I'll never forget that,” said her daughter, Barbara Heller of Boise.

Mrs. Heller loved nature and birds.

“Life can be rough sometimes, but my mother was always able to stop and notice a sunset or listen to songbirds singing. That's one thing she gave to me,” Barbara Heller said.

In addition to her daughter Barbara, she is survived by another daughter, Nan Jordan of Austin; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by a daughter, Linda Corder, and a sister, Liselotte Gambill.

Visitation will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday in Vaia Funeral Home Inc., 463 Athena Drive, Delmont. A memorial service follows at 11 a.m. Inurnment will be in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont, at a private service.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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