TRAVERSE CITY, Mich– As the community continues to mourn the loss of ‘Piper the Airport Dog,’ his owner is reflecting on their time together.
“Piper put a lot of time and work into our bond and he was just a good dog period. I mean, he just came that way,” Brian Edwards told FOX 17 on Thursday.
Piper, a 9-year-old Border Collie, passed away Wednesday evening in Edwards’ arms, following a year-long battle with prostate cancer. They learned of the disease in January 2017, and Edwards says Piper fought until the end.
“That’s the last thing I ever expected. I didn’t start the social media for it to go viral, I just started it because I love my dog and I love aviation and I thought a few people might find it interesting,” said Edwards. “I just woke up one morning, we started duty at 4 a.m. and about 4:30 I got notices that our website had crashed and was overloaded.”
Piper began training to chase birds off the runway in August 2014 and officially began his airport duties in January 2015. However, he didn’t just spend time on the ground, he also went skydiving for the first time in 2016.
“I was actually in the plane with him and they jumped at a lower altitude, so I watched Piper jump out of the back of a plane. I’ll never forget it,” said Edwards.
Edwards was given a flag from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City to drape over Piper’s body Wednesday night. He also says he’s been overwhelmed by all the support from the community following the dog’s passing.
“I’m just overwhelmed again by the outpouring of support. I can tell you this, 100% it’s really helped me because as I said in my post, my heart has definitely been shattered,” Edwards told FOX 17. “I’ll never be able to get through all the thousands of comments and everything, but I just want people to know how much it’s appreciated by me and my family.”
Edwards says they’re discussing possible memorials and say if they do organize something, their biggest priority is to make sure they ‘do right’ by Piper.