TODAY   |  November 17, 2012

Puppy named for Sept.11 victim graduates TSA training

Dolan was the 500th puppy to go through the TSA bomb-sniffing program, and is named after one of the 3,000 people who died on 9/11. “It's wonderful,” said Lisa Dolan, wife of the man who the dog is named after. “I know now that he's going to go out there and he's going to work.” NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> back now with a story of the young dog that's ready for some very hard work, as tom costello reports, he is ready for duty and carrying on a legacy in the process.

>> reporter: it was 18 months ago when we first met dolan and his playmates in san antonio . part of the tsa's canine boot camp that trains these noses to sniff out explosives. but something about this puppy made him special.

>> this right here is dolan , he was number 500.

>> reporter: he was the 500th puppy to go through tsa program. and every dog is named after one of the 3,000 people who died on 9/11.

>> this is such an honor. i can't even tell you what an honor this is for me.

>> reporter: dolan was named after lisa dolan 's husband, navy captain bob dolan , who died in the pentagon on 9/11. on the "today" show, lisa met dolan for the first time. 18 months later, dolan is all grown up. and with his handler, now ready to graduate from the tsa's bomb detection academy.

>> dolan ! over here!

>> reporter: a big day for which lisa and rebecca have driven all the way to san antonio .

>> hello, baby! do you remember me? oh, my gosh, do you remember me? yeah. that's rebecca .

>> reporter: whether it was the reunion or our microphone that caught his attention, dolan was wound up. what is it like the see him all grown up?

>> it 's wonderful . it 's wonderful . i know now that he's going go out there, he's going to work, and i also know i have the knowledge now that he remembers us.

>> oh, absolutely.

>> so that's exciting.

>> reporter: at the graduation ceremony, dolan led the procession. lisa and rebecca were there, and so were 14-year-old agan and his mom lori who helped raise dolan when he was a puppy in san antonio , then had to let him go.

>> it was kind of hard. it was.

>> reporter: a lot of work?

>> yes. it's another job, honestly.

>> reporter: sniffing for bombs is a big game for the tsa dogs, but almost half the puppies in the program wash out. not dolan .

>> good boy, good boy! that's a good boy.

>> reporter: now dolan is leaving the tsa's training airport terminal here in texas and headed for a new assignment in maui. and he's headed there with two of his classmates, right? handler frank d'angelo is going with him.

>> they're like a 2-year-old almost, and, you know, somedays they're terrible 2s, some days they're excellent.

>> reporter: for rebecca dolan whose dad was a bomb technician, it comes full circle .

>> i'm proud when i tell people my dad was the bomb guy, so i think it's cool that he's continuing his work.

>> reporter: with his tail in perpetual motion , dolan is on his way. tom costello, nbc news, san antonio .