Piper began his airport duties in late 2014. A year later, he became one of the nation's most famous dogs and a viral sensation when images of him in protective goggles hit the social media site, Redddit.
Piper Began His Heroic Life As A Sidekick to His Owner
Brian Edwards, who is the manager of airport operations at the Traverse City airport, started to bring his pet Border Collie, Piper, to work with him because he missed his company during the day. He soon became the airport's K-9 Wildlife Control Officer and after that, shot to stardom as one of the country's most famous dogs. Collisions with birds and other wildlife can be lethal to both aircraft and passengers as evidenced by the 2009 Hudson River disaster in which a flock of geese flew into the engine and the pilot was forced to land on the icy water. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to have plans to mitigate this hazardous situation. (See: Frida The Rescue Dog.)
Piper Becomes An Internet Star
Piper shot to fame after Edwards established both a website and social media accounts for the dog. He did this because he felt that both aviation enthusiasts and dog lovers would appreciate his airport gear and wining personality. But things went much further than that, and Piper's photogenic nature, beautiful markings and cool, tactical goggles propelled him to international canine fame. (See: Jaxton The Hero Pug.)
His appeal as protector, hero and positively adorable canine was unmatched anywhere in the world. He became the international subject of many news stories, and T-shirts and hoodies manufactured with his image emblazoned on them were big sellers. His photo won a US Coast Guard sponsored contest. (See: Abigail The Pit Bull.)
Edwards adopted Piper when he was two years old. In his own words: "We literally did spend almost every second together once Piper began the job. For me, it was almost more special that we morphed from being dad and son to working partners." (See: Freckles The Canine Smoke Detector.)
Piper began his obedience and off-leash training at home. Edwards stated that this activity led to many visits to the airport where he became accustomed to the many loud noises. On a Reddit question and answer form, he stated that it took about a year-and-a-half of passive training plus about three days for Piper to acclimate himself to the googles that soon became his trademark and for him to be ready to assume his chasing and patrol duties.(See: Retriever Calamity Jane Rides On Three Legs.).
Piper Becomes Ill With Prostate Cancer
In an interview, Edwards stated that Piper had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in January of 2016, but he did not reveal it to anyone because it was a private matter and the dog used his herding skills to clear the airfield of mammals like foxes and groundhogs until the very end. In fact, on the last day of his formidable, nine-year life, Piper chased a snowy owl from the airport runway, making it the 8,367th bird he had scared off over the course of a three-year career. (See: Kelsey The Retriever Saves Owner From Freezing To Death.)
When Piper died last year in the arms of his loving owner, Edwards draped and American flag over the body at the airport's Coast Guard station and posted a photo on Instagram requesting "patience as I take time to tend to my shattered heart." (See: Lucca: A Dog For All Seasons.)
Rest in peace, dear Piper.
Source: Independent .co News