Traverse City airport dog becomes Internet sensation

Associated Press
Piper the dog has an important job for the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, where he chases birds and other critters away from the runway.

Traverse City — A 7-year-old border collie named Piper has won the hearts of hundreds of Internet users after a photo of him working at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City was posted on a popular online social forum.

Airport operations supervisor Brian Edwards, who’s also the working dog’s owner, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he was surprised to come into work at 4 a.m. this week and discover that the airport’s website was experiencing network problems.

“I did some investigating and found Reddit and bam, there Piper was at No. 1 on the first page,” he said.

Edwards has created Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts to share a lesser known kind of working dog with the public.

K-9 Piper taking a break from chasing birds away from the runway to pose for a pic in front of his favorite aircraft.

“When you hear working dog you think police, military, but a dog running around with planes and helicopters is pretty unique — but he’s not the only one,” he said.

In 1999, Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers became the first airport to employ a canine, and Edwards was intrigued about the idea of an airport dog.

“Brian (Edwards) brought to us an inexpensive way to have a dog at the airport and be effective with the wildlife,” Airport Director Kevin Klein said. “I said ‘well what can the dog do for us’ and Brian showed us (Piper’s) skills and I thought that Piper had lots of talent.”

Since January 2015, Piper has been chasing birds, including geese, ducks and owls, off of the airport’s runways.

“Canadian geese and large waterfowl look at border collies and see them as a predator,” Klein said. “And border collies have natural tendencies to herd.”

The border collie has become an Internet sensation after a video posted online to the airport’s Facebook page went viral.

Edwards adopted Piper when the dog was about 2 years old, and they have been companions ever since, both living and working together.

“It’s so rewarding and fulfilling to watch him go out and patrol and see him do what does,” Edwards said of Piper. “I get to work with my best friend every day, how cool is that?”

Piper is recovering from a broken leg that he sustained in November when he jumped out of a pickup truck to chase a snowy owl.

“We’re trying to move forward. He’ll still be able to come and work, but we’re still recovering,” Edwards said.