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Golden retriever Spencer is named official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon

Spencer (left) was honored by the Boston Athletic Association as the official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon.Boston Athletic Association

Spencer, a 12-year-old golden retriever, has been named the official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon.

“For years Spencer has served as an unofficial cheerleader for participants as they make their way from Hopkinton to Boston,” wrote Thomas S. Grilk, president and CEO of the Boston Athletic Association, in a proclamation letter that was presented to Spencer. “No matter the weather on Marathon Monday, Spencer is out at his post near Ashland State Park, holding his ‘Boston Strong’ flag.”

The honor was bestowed upon Spencer in a ceremony at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. He was joined by his owners, Rich and Dorrey Powers, as well as his niece and companion, Penny, a 9-year-old golden retriever, officials said. He was also given his very own race bib that says “Spencer,” along with a goody bag.


Rich Powers called the recognition “humbling.”

“We don’t really do it for the recognition — we do it to inspire,” said Powers, in a telephone interview Wednesday. “He’s been kind of a very special dog from the get-go, we recognized it immediately. It’s almost been like a mission for my wife and I to share this dog with the world. He’s literally too good to keep to ourselves.”

Ever since 2014, Powers said, Spencer has cheered runners along. He went viral in 2018 for a photo of him in the rain, clad in a raincoat, alongside the Marathon route with a double-sided flag in his mouth. His owner said he was completely unfazed by the rain.

Spencer is in remission from a cancerous splenic tumor that was removed last year, Powers said. He finished chemotherapy treatment about six weeks ago, Powers said. He also had another noncancerous tumor removed in 2020 that was “jammed up in between the liver, stomach, and spleen,” his owner said.


“He didn’t realize anything was wrong — [it was] more stressful for my wife and I than him,” Powers said. “Every day is a gift, and we just take one day at a time.”

Despite the medical scares, Spencer is continuing to stay well and an ultrasound last week showed up clean, Powers said.

“If you didn’t know his story, you would never know he had anything wrong ... and you wouldn’t know he’s almost 13, either,” Powers said.

As of now, Powers and Spencer plan to watch runners in Monday’s race at their typical spot, at about two to three miles, near Ashland State Park. But his attendance, Powers said, depends on certain variables.

“It can’t be too hot. The heat would bother him, not the cold and the wet,” Powers said. “And he has to feel well, and that’s the same variable I’ve used for the past eight years with every Marathon.”

Matt Yan can be reached at Follow him @matt_yan12.