Michigan airport’s goggle-wearing, wildlife-control dog dies

  • Jan-Michael Stump/Traverse City Record-Eagle via AP This undated photo shows Piper the dog at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Mich. The speedy border collie that gained internet fame for chasing critters off the Michigan airport’s runways has died after a yearlong fight with cancer.

  • Tessa Lighty/Traverse City Record-Eagle via AP In this undated photo the AH-64 Apache is reflected in Piper the dog’s goggles at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Mich. The speedy border collie that gained internet fame for chasing critters off the Michigan airport’s runways has died after a yearlong fight with cancer.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A speedy border collie that gained internet fame for chasing critters off a Michigan airport’s runways has died after a yearlong fight with cancer.

Piper, who often donned ski goggles while hanging out on snowy runways with helicopters and planes, was the official wildlife-control dog at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City. The 9-year-old dog became the nemesis of geese, ducks and other wayward birds at the northern Michigan airport starting in January 2015.

About a year later, images of Piper on the job — in his official airport vest and goggles — made their way onto online social forum Reddit, and Piper became a top hit. Curious fans even caused network problems on the airport’s website.

Piper also got a bit too excited that year: He was benched after hurting his leg while jumping out of a pickup truck to chase a snowy owl.

“When you hear ‘working dog,’ you think police, military. But a dog running around with planes and helicopters is pretty unique,” said Brian Edwards, the airport’s director of operations and Piper’s owner.

Piper spent his last day playing soccer, getting scratches and chasing one last snowy owl.

Edwards announced Piper’s passing Wednesday on Facebook and Instagram. Edwards said his dog was surrounded by family, friends and airport personnel.

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