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Hundreds of Golden Retrievers Gather at Boston Marathon for Heartwarming Reason



Quick Smiles:

  • A group of approximately 200 golden retrievers and their owners came together to honor Spencer, the official Boston Marathon dog, who passed away from cancer earlier this year.
  • The event, dubbed the “Boston Marathon Golden Retriever Meetup,” involved a special walk that ended at the Boston Marathon finish line, where Spencer had become a beloved figure after appearing in a viral video in 2018.
  • The response to the event was overwhelming, with registration closing a week before it took place. Organizers hope to continue the event as a tradition and raise funds for canine cancer research.

Attention all dog lovers! This past weekend, approximately 200 four-legged friends and their owners gathered to honor the late Spencer, also known as the official Boston Marathon dog, who passed away in February from cancer. The event, dubbed the “Boston Marathon Golden Retriever Meetup,” featured a special walk that ended at the famous Boston Marathon finish line on April 16th, one day before the actual marathon.

The idea for the event came from Elisha Bussiere, co-founder of Massachusetts Golden Meetups, who wanted to pay tribute to Spencer, who became an internet sensation after appearing in a viral video in 2018. In the video, Spencer could be seen holding “Boston Strong” flags in his mouth along the route, stealing hearts and bringing smiles to faces along the way.

Spencer’s legacy clearly lives on, as dog owners from all over came to pay their respects. The pups donned yellow bandanas that read “Golden Strong,” and a dollar for each bandana sold was donated to the Morris Animal Foundation’s canine cancer research. Bussiere couldn’t believe the overwhelming response to the event, which was so successful that registration was closed a week prior to the meetup.

“We thought, ‘You know what? Spencer’s not going to be able to make the marathon this year. Let’s go for him,’” Bussiere told NBC Boston affiliate WJAR. “It’s just more than we ever imagined. I think that we all need hope, we all need happiness. Especially in recent years, everyone can use a smile. Who better than golden retrievers to bring that smile?”

It’s clear that Spencer had a profound impact on many lives. His owner, Rich Powers, has stated that countless runners have told him that Spencer was the reason they ran the marathon. Even before his death, Spencer had become a staple of the race’s pageantry. In fact, a portrait of him was put on display at the marathon headquarters prior to his passing, and he even received a medal.

“He had overcome some amazing challenges — he almost died in 2020 from a massive tumor, and then he was able to make the marathon again, which was a miracle,” Powers said in a statement to WJAR after Spencer’s death. “And he’s living proof that you can overcome what you thought you couldn’t.”


With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the bombings that rocked the race in 2013, killing three people and injuring over 260 others, the Boston Marathon is sure to hold a special place in the hearts of many. Spencer’s memory and legacy will no doubt live on in the hearts of those who knew him and those who were inspired by him.

We’re sure Spencer would be wagging his tail and barking with joy if he could see the love and support that was shown at the Boston Marathon Golden Retriever Meetup in his honor. And who knows? Maybe this event will become a tradition that continues to grow year after year.