BOSTON — An inspirational supporter of Boston Marathon runners, Spencer the golden retriever, was honored Wednesday with a massive portrait as he continues to battle terminal cancer.
During a special ceremony at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, artist Tom Mosser revealed a gigantic painting of Spencer that shows the beloved pup holding his favorite “We are Boston Strong” flag.
The artwork was revealed months ahead of the running of the 127th Marathon in April because Spencer was diagnosed with untreatable liver cancer in the fall, news that Spencer’s owner, Richard Powers, has kept private until now.
Spencer, who attended the ceremony, doesn’t appear to be in any pain, but Powers says his family is “beyond devastated to know this amazing angel will leave us soon.”
The 13-year-old dog has gone through a number of health battles since 2020, when he miraculously survived a near-rupture of a benign tumor between his liver and spleen. Spencer later underwent surgery and chemotherapy after a cancerous tumor was discovered on his spleen in 2021.
Spencer learned his cancer was in remission in the spring of 2022 and he was named the official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon. Powers said he learned of Spencer’s new diagnosis in October, prompting him to connect with the Pittsburgh-based Mosser to commission a portrait of Spencer famously holding the marathon flags.
“Our boy is about to turn onto Heartbreak Hill and is heading to his own finish line,” an emotional Powers said while speaking at the ceremony. “He’s doing very well, he still does his walks...But his days are limited. We’re not sure how long he’s going to be here, so we reached out to Tom.”
Spencer first went viral in 2018 when braved rainy weather to cheer on runners at his favorite spot along the 26.2-mile route near Ashland State Park. A video of him dressed in a raincoat with the flags in his mouth was widely shared by news outlets across the country.
Remember Spencer? At last year's Boston Marathon, he endured harsh weather and cheered people on! He will be back again...Posted by Boston 25 News on Monday, April 15, 2019
Spencer has returned to cheer on runners in each running of the race since then, including the first-ever fall Boston Marathon.
Mosser completed Spencer’s portrait over the span of 38 days, using acrylic ink on a canvas that stands more than 5 feet in height. He created the piece with “loop and flow” techniques, a circular drawing style.
“The sight of Spencer’s ears blowing in the wind as he held the marathon banners so firmly on that cold and rainy day is so iconic,” Mosser said. “I’ve run five marathons, so I especially loved seeing the smiles of the runners each year as they saw him. It was such a pleasure creating the piece to celebrate Spencer and the Boston Marathon.”
Spencer’s finished painting resides in Powers’ home in Holliston.
Mosser said his goal is to produce both paper and canvas prints of the digital image to sell and fundraise on his website. He plans to donate $100 for every print sold to the Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.
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