We start this day with the sad news of the passing of a legend. Nine year old Border Collie, Piper, chased away his last Snowy Owl last week before succumbing to prostate cancer.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires an airport to have a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan to “mitigate wildlife hazards to aviation.” There are different approaches that include using traps, lights and sirens, pyrotechnics, and the rarer method – dogs. Piper became a sensation when his owner, airport operations manager Brian Edwards, tasked the dog with running birds and wildlife off the runway at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan. Piper became the subject of news stories around the world. T-shirts and hoodies with his image were made, and a photo of him won a U.S. Coast Guard-sponsored contest.
Looking back on it, Brian recalled that the training “took a lot of work to get it to” where Piper became accustomed to the noise and movement of helicopters and airplanes, but geared only with Rex Specs goggles, Mutt Muffs for ear protection, RuffWear boots, an aerial insertion vest, a tracking ID/harness, and a K9 Trauma Kit, he became very good at his job. In his career, Piper is estimated to have worked 6,202 hours, patrolled 1,907 miles, and chased off 8,367 birds (keeping them, pilots, and passengers safe). It was a “dream job for a dog.”
Below was the gif that launched Piper’s fame:
Piper’s cancer was diagnosed in January 2016, but he didn’t show symptoms until December. As his tumor swelled in recent weeks, Piper began having trouble urinating. “Things were fine until New Year’s Eve, and then the tumor had grown too large, and he just couldn’t go anymore,” Edwards said, choking up.
Kleenex alert: Below is Piper’s last call, minutes after chasing away his final snowy owl:
Those wishing to remember Piper with a donation re asking to either donate to your favorite charity in Piper’s name, or consider donating to Piper’s owner’s favorite, Spike’s K9 Fund. They can be found at: http://spikesk9fund.org.
Our photo of Piper was found via Joan Totaro on Facebook, and while we don’t know don’t who gets actual photo credit, we hope they aren’t furious that we used a terrific picture to say goodbye to a terrific dog. Rest in Peace, Piper.