|IWAMS members in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Charlotte, NC. March 2018.|
The Irish Wolfhound community lost one of its fiercest warriors, defenders, and supporters yesterday with the death of Heather Burns, a member of the Irish Wolfhound Association of the Mid South. Heather worked tirelessly to find placements for IWs that needed rescue/rehoming. She possessed a wealth of knowledge of the breed: history, temperament, health concerns, etc. I've put this picture up even though you can't see Heather and Mark in this shot, it is representative of who she was and why those of us lucky enough to have known her are grieving today.
This was the day before she drove our Ciaragh all the way from her home in NC (almost VA) down to us here in Greenville. Hubs came with me to the parade this time to watch from the sidelines and brought Willow-Pickle along for the ride so she wouldn't have to stay home alone. If you look right in the middle of the picture you will see her, straining to get out in front of all those long-legged wolfhounds because she was the security for the IW contingent. Simon happened to run into Heather along the parade route (I had already taken Bryn to the line-up point) and, being the force of nature she was, she managed to convince my 6'4" Yorkshireman and our snappy little terrier mix to come with her and join the parade. "Willow can be a Wolfhound today," she told him - which is exactly what Willow believed in her heart already.
You see, that was Heather. In a world of kennel clubs and rare breeds that could foster a sense of elitism and snobbery, Heather was there to make sure that everyone felt welcome at the table - at HER table, the Irish Wolfhound table. I was already familiar with her because she not only saved my bacon and my sanity plenty of times as we were raising Bryn, but she found members of Bryn's extended family that we didn't know about, like her litter brother, Barley, and his family, Tamara and Marc. Or Bryn's older sister Keira and her mom Stacie. Heather knew everyone and everything, and if she didn't know something you'd better believe she would find out for you.
What I knew from the time that I met her was that she had cancer and that it was terminal. She told me with a smile on her face and in her heart that her plan was to outlive the IWs she had (at the time I think there were three) so that when she passed, her husband wouldn't have that to deal with on top of everything else. Heather NEVER thought of herself first. So I knew that as I was saying hello to her, I was also getting ready to say goodbye. She was one of those warrior women that you just thought would live forever.
Go raibh cead míle maith agat, one hundred thousand thank yous, to Heather, for taking me under her massive wing and teaching me how to be a good mom to Bryn and Ciaragh - and for your example of strength, compassion, and love. I hope that your first stop was at a clear pond where your hounds were waiting.
Please visit my album in the Beach Bound Hounds Vendor Virtual Showcase, currently happening through 14th September 2020, to purchase your copies of the Clobberpaws books - 100% of the total sales of Clobberpaws and Clobberpaws, Too! paperbacks will go to the Irish Wolfhound Rescue of the MidSouth's Heather Burns Memorial Fund for Veteran Hounds, created to support foster homes and adopters of hounds that due to age/illness are difficult to place.