Social media star, Spencer the Dog, named “Official Dog of the Boston Marathon”
Spencer has been encouraging runners for eight years
By Jane Lebak
Spencer, a local therapy dog, was recognized at this year’s Boston Marathon as its Official Dog and “Grand Barkshal.”
“From 2015 on, Spencer’s been at every marathon holding the ‘Boston Strong’ flag,” said Rich Powers, owner of Spencer and Penny, a pair of Golden Retrievers based in Holliston. “Runners stop and hug him.”
Local therapy dogs Penny and Spencer hard at work at a Boston hospital. Source: www.facebook.com/Spencerpowrs
Spencer, age 12, has been cheering on runners for eight years. He started garnering attention in 2018, when marathon day saw high winds and pouring rain. “There was a pup there wearing a raincoat,” said Powers, not adding it was his own raincoat he had placed on Spencer so the dog would stay safe and dry.
Spencer and Penny appear frequently on Facebook’s Holliston Residents & Fans page with daily “Pupdates.” They also have their own Facebook page “Spencer & Penny” @Spencerpowrs.
Powers said the Pupdates began as a fun way to mark time during the pandemic. “Once, I dragged my trash cans to the curb on the wrong day. My dogs love to hold things in their mouth so, as a joke, I wrote ‘Today is Tuesday’ and I posted it on social media.”
The pups got a great response so, two years later, the signs continue with the dogs first telling the day and then giving a joke or good advice.
Spencer has faced cancer twice, the most recent in Dec. 2021. In Feb., he completed his fourth chemotherapy and is now in remission.
Powers believes people connect with Spencer because of that. “He inspires a lot of people because everyone knows a Spencer. Everyone knows someone who’s fighting the good fight and moving forward. That’s why he’s such a strong presence at the marathon. He’s a symbol of hope.”
On April 13, Spencer and Penny traveled to Fairmont Copley Plaza, where the Boston Athletic Association formally recognized Spencer’s efforts on behalf of the marathon runners.
The BAA announced, “For years, Spencer has served as an unofficial cheerleader for participants as they make their way from Hopkinton to Boston…For all of Spencer’s contributions that have lifted the spirit of runners far and wide, the Boston Marathon and the B.A.A. hereby name Spencer as the Official Dog of the 126th Boston Marathon.”
Spencer was presented with his own Spencer bib, and posed for photos with his Boston Strong flag.
Accent Limousine of Milford volunteered to bring Spencer to receive his award in style, in a white stretch limousine. Rick Nashawaty II, owner of Accent Limousine Service, says, “Everyone that sees Spencer during the marathon route is immediately in a good mood! He’s a survivor, an inspiration, and we’re proud to be part of Spencer’s journey to support the runners to keep going to the finish line.”
Powers says there is something special about his beloved therapy dog, who (along with Penny) is a star on social media but also in real life as they travel the area visiting schools and hospitals.
“There’s something about Spencer. He just goes to people and leans in, and then everything is okay. He’s got magic about him, just like a little angel. We’ve made it a mission to share him with the world.”