Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar;
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.
—Ina Duley Ogdon
This April, I saw a wonderful story related to this year’s Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the best-known running races on Earth. The story concerned Spencer, a golden retriever who became the Marathon’s official race dog.
Rich and Dorsey Powers, Spencer’s human parents, recognized that Spencer was very smart early on. After Rich did some research, Spencer went to work at schools, hospitals, and assisted living facilities as a therapy dog. There, he would cheer up those dealing with bad news or help brighten up a nondescript weekday.
Spencer loved interacting with people, and since 2015, two years after the Boston Marathon bombing, he has held a “Boston Strong” flag on race day as thousands of runners passed by (he loved to hold things in his mouth). In 2018, during a freezing rainstorm with 25-mile-an-hour headwinds, Powers dressed Spencer in his own navy rain jacket and they cheered on the runners. Spencer sat on a wooden crate with two flags tucked in his mouth and squinted as rain pelted his face for hours on end (pictured below). Powers posted a video of Spencer, and it went viral.
Runners from around the globe emailed Powers. Would Spencer be at the 2019 Marathon? “Of course,” Powers responded. Packs of runners lined up to pet him, hug him, and get a picture, adding minutes to their marathon finish times! Last year, Spencer was honored by the Boston Athletic Association as the “Grand Barkshal” and a “V.I.P., Very Important Pup.” In July 2022, Powers had a birthday party for Spencer, who was celebrating his 13th birthday despite an earlier brush with cancer. Over four hours, more than 700 people showed up!
So in addition to shamelessly pandering to our human obsession with lovable dogs, I would offer this simple reminder. A little kindness goes a long way! The warm greeting and a friendly smile you offer may be the only gesture of goodwill someone receives this week. If someone is experiencing a truly horrible day, a measure of gracious acceptance could help them turn a corner. As you reflect on a dog named Spencer, not to mention the calling of Jesus, may you brighten the corner where you are!