Kabosu, the dog behind the ‘Doge’ meme, has died

Kabosu, the dog behind the 'doge' meme died on May 24, 2024, according to her owner. NurPhoto/Getty Images & kabosumama/Instagram

The Japanese dog that spawned the “Doge” meme has died, her owner announced Friday.

Kabosu was the real name of “Doge,” a Shiba Inu dog whose bemused expression became a viral sensation after her owner posted the now-famous image to her blog in 2010. There have since been countless doge memes made, featuring Kabosu’s side-eyed gaze paired with captions in broken English like “much wow” and “very concern.”

The Shiba Inu “quietly passed away as if asleep while I caressed her,” owner Atsuko Sato wrote on her blog. Kabosu “fell into a deep sleep” at 7:50 a.m. Friday.

“I think Kabo-chan was the happiest dog in the world. And I was the happiest owner,” Sato added, using a term of endearment to refer to Kabosu.

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According to the dog’s biography, Kabosu first belonged to a dog breeder who went out of business. Kabosu was brought to an animal shelter with 19 other dogs, and while “many of her fellow dogs were to be euthanized, she was lucky enough to be rescued by a volunteer group called Chibawan, who put him up for adoption.”

Sato adopted the “kind and laid-back” pup in November 2008. While Kabosu’s real age is unknown, Sato believes she was around 18 years old when she died — much older than the typical lifespan of a Shiba Inu.

Two years after adopting Kabosu, Sato’s life would change forever. On an otherwise normal day, Kabosu was on the couch when Sato’s husband called her over to play. The dog only moved her head and shot him a skeptical side-eye. The rest is history, though it would take Sato three years to learn that the photo taken that day had become a meme.

“Ever since Kabosu came into my home, a series of miraculous things have happened, enriching my life and gifting me with a treasure trove of priceless moments,” Sato told the Asahi Shimbun in February.

Outside of internet culture, Doge has had a significant impact in the world of crypto. The picture became an NFT digital artwork that sold for US$4 million in 2021, becoming the most expensive meme NFT at the time. The money was donated to children’s rights charities.

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Dogecoin, the first of many meme cryptocurrencies to launch after bitcoin captured mainstream attention, also helped bolster Kabosu’s fame. The non-profit paid tribute to its inspiration in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“Today Kabosu, our community’s shared friend and inspiration, peacefully passed in the arms of her person. The impact this one dog has made across the world is immeasurable,” the Dogecoin account wrote.

“She was a being who knew only happiness and limitless love. Please keep her spirit and her family in your heart.”

Dogecoin now has a market cap of over US$22 billion. Its value soared significantly after Elon Musk endorsed it with statements like “Dogecoin Rulz” and “no highs, no lows, only Doge.”

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Musk himself changed the icon for X to Kabosu’s face last year.

Kabosu’s health took a turn in 2022 and she suffered from cancer and other illnesses. Recent blog posts by Sato showed the beloved dog being fitted for a walker and enjoying being pushed around in strollers.

“I want to stay close to her so that she can live her remaining days peacefully,” Sato told the Asahi Shimbun in February.

Last November, a bronze statue of Kabosu and her sofa was unveiled in Sakura, her hometown in Chiba Prefecture, made possible by crowdfunded donations.

A memorial service for Kabosu will be held Sunday in Narita.

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Dogecoin: How the joke cryptocurrency became no laughing matter

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