Piper went viral a couple of years ago when Reddit users caught sight of the Border Collie wearing goggles and ear muffs, standing at attention on a Michigan airport runway.

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Since then, the canine amassed large Twitter and Instagram followings, his accounts dedicated to detailing his aviation exploits.

Sadly, Piper has crossed the rainbow bridge, passing away after a battle with prostate cancer.

The dog, who was employed as a K-9 wildlife control expert at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan, had to be trained to do his job–like any human.

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 draped over Piper’s body flew today at @uscg Air Station Traverse City and was taken down, folded and presented to us and 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

A post shared by K-9 Piper (@airportk9) on

In a past Reddit AMA, the airport’s operations manager, Brian Edwards said:

“It’s not natural for dogs to be around aircraft, so we had to gradually work up to the different sounds. Each aircraft has a different sound. Every day we’d go out and do some socializing, consistent. This also built trust that I’m not going to put him into a bad situation.”

It took Piper about a year and a half to get acclimated to the job — but he was good at it, and dedicated, working “four 10-hour shifts per week on a rotating basis,” according to information on the website

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The website broke it down even further, saying it all amounted to “8,367 birds chased, 1,907 miles patrolled, and 6,202 hours worked.”

Anna Caplan contributes to Rare Houston and Rare Animals. 
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