- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Cherry Capital Airport’s appointed runway bird-chaser might be down, but he’s not out.

Piper, the border collie who keeps the Traverse City airport’s runway clear of flying creatures, is off the runway for a couple months as he and owner Brian Edwards wait for his fractured toe to heal, MLive.com reported (https://bit.ly/1NcH36O ).

Edwards, also an airport operations supervisor, said the 7-year-old dog was running after his first snowy owl of the season on Tuesday when he yelped. They were testing a new pair of dog boots designed to keep ice from collecting on Piper’s paws, and Edwards believes the boots might have tripped Piper up.

Piper has been clearing the runway at the northern Michigan airport for about a year. Edwards said the canine has chased away roughly 2,450 birds this year, including gulls, loons, ducks, geese. The birds can congregate and pose problems for aircraft.

Edwards said Piper has a particular fondness for peeling off after owls.

“He absolutely loves chasing the snowy owl,” Edwards said. “It’s his favorite thing to chase and it’s the thing that we’ve been most successful at.”

The dog normally jumps from Edwards’ truck upon instruction and runs alongside the vehicle. For now, Piper is boosting morale among airport workers but staying out of the truck until the canine is cleared for duty.

“Not having him in the truck is going to be the hardest thing for me because this is my partner,” Edwards said.


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, https://www.mlive.com

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