Golden Retrievers Honor Spencer the Marathon Dog

Golden strong in Boston!

May 3, 2023


Pets, Community
Golden Retrievers Honor Spencer the Marathon Dog | Golden strong in Boston!

The Boston marathon is always a well-attended event. But the April 17,  2023 marathon spectators were treated to a special tribute when dozens of golden retrievers walked to the finish line to honor Spencer, the race’s official dog.

Since 2015, Spencer, a golden retriever greeted the runners with a “Boston Strong” flag. But this special dog, who had been battling cancer, died in February 2023 at age 13, reported CBS News, two months before the race.  Spencer’s legacy was honored at the 2023 marathon by the golden retrievers and their owners.

The walk was planned by the MA Golden Meetups group. The group heard about Spencer’s passing just before an event, according to the group's co-founder Elisha Bussiere.

“So we all drove to the event, get out of our cars, and everyone's faces were just very sullen, somber. Just heartbroken,” she told CBS News. "So one of the members suggested why don't we have a representation at the Boston Marathon since Spencer won't be there this year and it just grew from there. It was a wonderful idea.”

The organization sold banners for the event with the proceeds being donated to Morris Animal Foundation’s hemangiosarcoma research.

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The official marathon dog
While Spencer greeted racers at the Boston Marathon beginning in 2015.  He wasn’t well-known until three years later on  a rainy race day when he was dressed in a bright yellow raincoat that made him more visible, CBS News reported in a 202. Photos of Spencer with the Boston Strong flag in his mouth went viral on social

In 2020, the world went on lockdown and the marathon was not held. That same year, Spencer was diagnosed with a tumor and survived. “In 2021, he was back on the course and it was really kind of a miracle and that really hit home to a lot of people,” his owner, Rich Powers said

But in 2021, Spencer’s vet found another tumor, this one malignant, and he received chemotherapy. Powers was afraid that Spencer wouldn’t live to see the 2022 marathon but he did and he was in his usual place on the route cheering the runners on.
But before the race, Spencer was named the official dog of the Boston Marathon by the Boston Athletic Association. It was a well-deserved honor.

Sadly, Spencer passed before the 2023 marathon, reported People. "We are devastated to share the news of Spencer's passing," Powers said. "We were loaned [an] incredible gift in 2009 and we had to return the gift last Friday,” he wrote on Instagram. 

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Spencer and Penny
Spencer was more than just the marathon dog; he was also a therapy dog alongside his companion golden retriever Penny. Together, they visited schools, hospitals and senior facilities.

Penny, bereft of her long-time companion, died on February 25, just eight days after Spencer. Powers wrote: “Penny was the sweetest pup who liked to make a difference. Penny took Spencer's passing very hard. We did everything we could to keep her busy to keep her mind off her loss. We have been watching Penny closely while she grieved to be sure we could help her navigate through her grief.”

The golden tribute at the Marathon honored both dogs by bringing some smiles to runners and spectators alike.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.