Kabosu, the Shiba Inu Who Inspired the ”Doge” Meme, Has Died · The Wildest

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Kabosu, the Shiba Inu Who Inspired the “Doge” Meme, Has Died

The famous rescue pup, who was also the face of Dogecoin, passed peacefully at age 18.

by Sio Hornbuckle
May 24, 2024
Kabosu, Shiba Inu Who Helped Define the Doge Meme, Dies at 18.
Courtesy of @kabosumama

Only a few — if any — dogs are more recognizable than Kabosu, the expressive Shiba Inu who catapulted to fame as the face of the “doge” meme in 2010. Even your most off-the-grid friend has probably seen the iconic photo of Kabosu staring at the camera with a tilted head and wide eyes.

Kabosu was a much-loved pup who lived happily in Chiba prefecture, just southeast of Tokyo, in Japan, with her pet parent, a kindergarten teacher named Atsuko Sato, who adopted Kabosu from an animal shelter in 2008. Kabosu passed away today, at the age of 18. 

“She went very peacefully without suffering, as if falling asleep while feeling the warmth of my hands petting her,” Sato wrote in an Instagram caption. “Thank you all so much for loving Kabosu all these years. I am certain that Kabosu was the happiest dog in the world.”

Kabosu’s rise to meme fame 

Sato adopted Kabosu after an animal shelter received a group of Shiba Inu dogs from a puppy mill that was shut down, Sato told The Verge. Soon after, she began posting images of Kabosu on her blog, but one in particular became a part of the zeitgeist: the now famous “doge” photo. 

People began adding their own captions to the photo; they wrote in comic sans in a brand-new internet language that quickly became synonymous with Kabosu’s adorable face. You remember: things like “much wow” and “goodest dog” — or, when the photo was edited to put Kabosu's adorable face on silly objects, like this one of her as a twinkie, with phrases as abstract as “such sponge” surrounding her. It’s out of fashion now, but this type of meme speak was omnipresent in the 2010s. Kabosu was everywhere. 

More recently, Kabosu became the face of Dogecoin, a form of cryptocurrency that started as a joke in response to Bitcoin. “Today Kabosu, our community’s shared friend and inspiration, peacefully passed in the arms of her person,” Dogecoin posted on X. “The impact this one dog has made across the world is immeasurable. She was a being who knew only happiness and limitless love.” 

Home life and passing

Outside of fame, Kabosu had a happy life at home with Sato, Sato’s family, and three cats. “She was not loved when she was little, so I want to shower her with love as a member of my family,” Sato told The Verge.

Unlike some other viral animals, Kabosu and Sato never embraced the fame with marketing deals and TV appearances. Sato’s primary hope was that Kabosu’s popularity could raise awareness for animals in need. “I want more people to know about animal shelters and puppy mills,” she said. “I’d like to give back to them somehow, helping those abandoned animals. It’ll be nice that Kabosu can play that role.” 

In 2022, Kabosu was diagnosed with leukemia and liver disease. She passed away this morning, peacefully drifting to sleep by Kabosu’s side. There will be a farewell party held for Kabosu this Sunday in Narita, Japan.

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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