Piper, the Goggle-Wearing Michigan Runway Dog, Has Died
Tails are wagging at half-mast across the US this week in honor of Piper, the wildlife-control dog and viral sensation who died Wednesday.
Known for wearing reflective goggles, the border collie became a social-media darling in 2015, when photos emerged of him chasing geese and other animals off the runway at Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), in northern Michigan.
"Piper passed away tonight peacefully in my arms after fighting a yearlong battle with prostate cancer," Brian Edwards, Piper's owner and an airport operations supervisor, wrote on Piper's Instagram page. "He fought valiantly, and we did everything we could, but sometimes life just has to take its course."
Nine-year-old Piper was charged with keeping the airport clear of wildlife, and took to his 40-hour-a-week job with glee, injuring himself in overenthusiastic hot pursuit of a snowy owl trespassing on a taxiway in 2015. He even had a working uniform, consisting of goggles, ear protection, a special vest, tracking beacon and boots to protect his paws from hot pavement in the summer and ice and snow in the winter. He had a second job as TVC's official airport morale officer.
Piper's last day was spent among his friends, including many airport workers Edwards said: "He played soccer, got some much-deserved butt scratches and, yes, he chased away one last snowy owl as he sailed into the night."
A local Coast Guard air station paid tribute to Piper by presenting Edwards with the flag that flew there.
Edwards said Piper, pictured below with a Delta 757, was "grateful to have done what we loved for three years and had a whole hell of a lot of fun doing it."
Images courtesy of the AirportK9 Instagram page.