Spencer, the beloved therapy dog, named ‘official dog of the Boston Marathon’ after battling cancer

Boston Marathon runners in recent years may have seen a smiley — hairy — face around the two-mile mark. It was Spencer, the therapy dog, who became the marathon’s unofficial mascot, as he’s been showing up every year since 2015, rain or shine.

A particularly rainy marathon that catapulted Spencer to fame. In 2018, his owner, Richard Powers, decided to put a bright yellow raincoat on the dog, making him stand out even more than he usually does.

Spencer has thrilled Boston Marathon runners and spectators every year since 2015.

Richard Powers / The Henry Studio

Photos of Spencer holding a “Boston Strong” flag in his mouth have gone viral and he’s become an inspiration to runners and spectators alike.

“I mean, when I’m walking the dog, people stop and say, ‘Is that Spencer?’ They act like they’re meeting Sandra Bullock,” Powers told CBS News.

During the marathon, some runners stop in their tracks to take selfies with the dog – the line sometimes stretches to as many as 20 runners.

But in 2020, the world has shut down, and so has the Boston Marathon. And Spencer was diagnosed with a tumor. His owners were worried, but Spencer is a fighter.

“He got the care he needed; he survived. In 2021 he was back on the course and it was really kind of a miracle and it really touched a lot of people,” Powers said.

Unfortunately, vets recently caught another tumor — this one cancerous — and Spencer started chemotherapy. Powers didn’t think his beloved dog would make it to the marathon this year.

“Miraculously he is still here with us and an even bigger miracle he was strong enough to go for a marathon,” he said.

The runners actually stop mid-race to line up and take a photo with Spencer, who is holding a “Boston Strong” flag.

Richard Powers / The Henry Studio

After recovering, Spencer was back to work – not just running the marathon – but as a therapy dog, alongside her companion, Penny, who is also a golden retriever. Powers takes her two therapy dogs to schools, hospitals and senior residences.

“It’s a gift to us and we’re very lucky to have it, and we thought it was too good not to share, so we want to share it with as many people as possible,” Powers said. .

Spencer was visiting a local high school last week when he was taken by limo to the Fairmont Comely Plaza near the marathon finish line. There, he received great news: the Boston Athletic Association named him the official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon.

It was a surprise, but well deserved.

“He just represents hope, that’s the best way to describe it. An inspiration. And he kind of represents the regular guy, you know, who fights the good fight and plugs in and gets through it,” said said Powers. “Everyone has a story with Spencer – whether it’s a person, a dog, a cat or themselves – they go through a personal struggle, they just do their best.”

“And then when they see him stepping forward and doing the job, it gives people a lot of hope,” he continued.

A runner stopped during this year’s Boston Marathon and gave Spencer his 2021 marathon medal.

Rich Powers / The Henry Studio

Powers said Spencer probably didn’t even know how special he was, but a marathon runner in this year’s race wanted to show him as a sign of gratitude.

“We were taking one of the selfies. One of the runners asked if [Spencer] had a medal and I said no. So he took his medal out of his pocket and put it on Spencer and he punched me and said, “Keep doing what you’re doing. And he’s gone,” Powers said, tears in his eyes at the stranger’s generosity.

“So he gave Spencer his 2021 medal,” he said as he lifted the medal. “And I have no idea who this guy is. But he gave it to Spencer. So Spencer has a Boston Marathon medal.”

Spencer receives countless messages thanking him for the hope he’s spread at the marathon — and beyond.

“He makes a difference. It’s like people are reaching out and saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m crying for a dog I’ve never met,'” Powers said. “He’s just amazing. He’s an amazing guy. He’s very, very special. And we’re very lucky to have him.”

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