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Family of Boston Marathon dog Spencer says they’ve lost second golden retriever, also to cancer

Penny died eight days after Spencer, family says; both were friendly fixtures along the Marathon route

Spencer (left) and his sister, Penny, died eight days apart, both from cancer, their owner said. The two golden retrievers were fixtures along the Boston Marathon route for several years and a source of joy and inspiration for runners and many others.The Henry Studio

Just eight days after Spencer the Boston Marathon dog died following multiple bouts with cancer, his family says they’ve lost Spencer’s grief-stricken sister, Penny, also to an aggressive form of cancer.

Richard Powers said Penny was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma after he felt fluid in her abdomen and took her to the emergency room on Saturday. The vet told the Powers family that surgery might buy the golden retriever some time, perhaps several weeks, but there is no cure, Powers said.

“We made the difficult decision to help her pass while she was comfortable,” Powers wrote in an Instagram post Sunday. “We held her, thanked her, and told her we loved her until her last breath.”


In a telephone interview Sunday night, Powers said Penny, who was three years younger than Spencer, suffered a different kind of cancer. He said Hemangiosarcoma is a “silent killer” that wasn’t causing any pain to Penny, who spent the week grieving with her family over Spencer’s death.

“She took it very hard when we lost Spencer; they were very bonded,” Powers told the Globe. “Saturday morning we noticed there was something more going on than just grief.”

Penny was often seen by Spencer’s side along the Marathon route. Spencer, a friendly fixture roadside near Ashland State Park since 2014, first went viral in a 2018 video that showed him during a soaking wet Boston Marathon wearing a rain jacket holding a pair of blue, white, and yellow “Boston Strong” flags from his mouth as the runners passed by.

The pups’ presence along the route became a source of joy and inspiration for runners trying to complete the 26.2 mile trek, including many who would stop to pet Spencer and Penny and take a picture with them.

In January, the BAA honored Spencer with a portrait and an honorary medal. He died Feb. 17 after multiple bouts with cancer, and his little sister, Penny, died eight days later from a different form of cancer. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

To lose both of their dogs in a matter of days has gutted the family, Powers said. Spencer was 13 years old and Penny was 10.


“We’re fluctuating between meltdowns and waves of depression and sadness,” Powers said. “Spencer was amazing, and Penny was equally amazing.”

The family has received an outpouring of support on social media and personal messages from friends and fans around Boston and the running community.

“Knowing that people understand what we’re going through and sending positive messages has helped us navigate this horrific turn of events,” he said.

A fundraiser with the Morris Animal Foundation has been set up in Spencer and Penny’s names to support research to advance animal health, Powers said.

“It really hurts an entire family when you lose a pet, and I’m biased, but especially with how amazing mine were,” he said. “They gave joy and love to everybody, and of course they were everything to us.”

Globe correspondent Matt Yan contributed to this report.

Nick Stoico can be reached at Follow him @NickStoico.