K9 Piper Succumbs to Cancer

Brian and Piper take a break from work to enjoy a sunrise at Cherry Capital Airport. (Photo by Brian Edwards)

Brian and Piper take a break from work to enjoy a sunrise at Cherry Capital Airport. (Photo by and property of Brian Edwards)

Traverse City – K9 Piper, the Cherry Capital Airport Wildlife Control Canine, and unofficial Chief Morale Officer for the airport and Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, passed away Wednesday after a year long battle with cancer.

Wednesday evening, Brian Edwards, Pipers owner, and airport operations supervisor, posted to Facebook:

Friends,

It is with the ultimate sadness I must report the passing of my best friend and love of my life.

Piper passed away tonight peacefully in my arms after fighting a year-long battle with prostate cancer. He fought valiantly, and we did everything we could, but sometimes life just has to take its course.

Today, Piper enjoyed a pain-free day, filled with love from family and friends, mostly his fellow airport employees. He played soccer, got some much deserved butt scratches and yes, he chased away one last snowy owl as he sailed into the night.

As I hope was plainly evident, we are grateful. Grateful to have done what we loved for three years and had a whole hell of a lot of fun doing it. Mostly though, we’re grateful for all of your support. It’s what’s really helped us through the dark days.

As we leave you tonight, know that Piper is in a better place. I only ask for your patience as I take time to tend to my shattered heart.

Lastly, as a final act of true class, the flag you see here flew today at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City and was taken down, folded and presented to us as a token of their love. Please join me in thanking the men and women, past and present, of Air Station Traverse City for their awesomeness. Piper and I are forever in your debt.

With love,

Brian & Piper

Piper became well known throughout the Coast Guard family when his photo, “Wildlife Control” was selected as the 2016 Coast Guard Photo of the Year.

Coast Guard Photo of the Year: Piper, the wildlife control canine at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Mich., checks the area for pests as aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City in an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and the Royal Canadian Air Force in a CH-146 Griffon take off during a joint search-and-rescue training exercise at the airport Oct. 17, 2015. The Coast Guard routinely partners with local and international agencies to ensure solidarity when conducting rescue operations together. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Air Station Traverse City)

Coast Guard Photo of the Year: Piper, the wildlife control canine at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Mich., checks the area for pests as aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City in an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and the Royal Canadian Air Force in a CH-146 Griffon take off during a joint search-and-rescue training exercise at the airport Oct. 17, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Air Station Traverse City)

It wasn’t just the Coast Guard who were amazed by this Border Collie. People started noticing him when photos and videos of him chasing birds and stalking animals began to appear on social media. Suddenly the playful pup started appearing on television and in magazines. Just a few of those who took notice were: Fox News, CNN, The American Kennel Club, MSNBC, The Weather Channel, CBS News, Midwest Living, Mashable, USA Today, NBC News and many more. Links to these stories and more can be found on Pipers website,

Piper began his career at the Cherry Capital Airport in 2014. He was trained in and charged with wildlife control while on duty. This included chasing all sorts of birds and detecting and tracking mammals on or in the ground. Piper worked tirelessly year round to ensure aircraft arrived/departed safely, including U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City assets.

Pipers popularity shows in his social media platforms where he had 99,100 followers on his Instagram account, and 27,900 followers on his Facebook page.

Among those following him was Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft who met Piper during the 2016 Coast Guard Festival.

Piper with Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival in 2016.

Piper with Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival in 2016.

Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft announcing Pipers passing on his Instagram account.

Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul Zukunft announcing Pipers passing on his Instagram account.

Those who followed Pipers antics on social media, and even more so, those who interacted with him daily at the airport & air station will miss him deeply.

To read & watch more about Pipers amazing life, here’s just a few sites to visit:

Vertical Magazine – Meet the Cherry Capital Airport K-9 team
MLive – Piper goes Skydiving
MLive – Talking with Piper, the most fly dog in the world
MLive – Michigan’s K-9 star Piper gets spotlight in Reddit AMA forum
AirportK9 on Instagram
Cherry Capital Airport K-9 Team on Facebook

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