A Day in the Life of an Explosives Detection Dog

Eisner, a yellow Labrador who is an explosives-detection canine, sits beside his handler Thomas Brown at the 9/11 Memorial.
Eisner, an explosives detecting canine, and his handler Thomas Brown at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Photo by Jin Lee.

He hates mornings and waits until the last possible minute to get out of bed. Eisner, a 4-year-old yellow Labrador, works as an explosive detection canine at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

At 6:30 a.m. Eisner trots out the door with his partner of two years, Thomas Brown, to get to work. First, they scan the memorial and inside the museum. After they survey the site, the pair patrols the entrance to the museum to ensure the safety of the building.

“Everybody loves the dog,” Brown said. “People thank me for being here. They see him and suddenly everyone feels safer.”

Eisner is social. His best friend is a Great Dane named Roman. Brown says Eisner likes working on the days when Chance, a therapy dog, visits the museum. Because of the emotional nature of the site, Eisner often serves as a de facto therapy dog to visitors.

“One night I noticed a woman who was very emotional. It turned out she was a family member visiting for the first time,” Brown said. “She asked me if we would take her through the museum, and we did. She said she couldn’t have gotten through without us.” 

Eisner and Brown divide their time between their door post and walking the grounds. As part of his routine, Eisner is rewarded with food after he finds mock explosives hidden by Brown.

Eisner was originally in training to be a seeing-eye dog but switched careers after two years when his trainers realized he was better suited to detecting explosives.  

Brown, a former Marine, began working at the 9/11 Memorial through a veteran’s job program called Warriors to Work. He has been partnered with Eisner since 2014. The program is staffed by MSA Security and the two are one of seven teams that work at the site.

When Eisner and Brown return home to Queens after their 11-hour shifts, Eisner bursts through the front door to find Brown’s 1-year-old daughter. The Lab kisses her goodnight and then heads to bed.   

By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist 

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