Kabosu, the internet-famous dog who inspired the “doge” meme and influenced digital culture for a decade, is seriously ill with leukemia and liver disease.
The 17-year-old shiba inu quit “voluntarily eating and drinking” on Christmas Eve and was diagnosed with acute cholangiohepatitis and chronic lymphoma leukemia, according to a series of Instagram posts from her owner Atsuko Sato, a kindergarten teacher in Sakura, Japan.
While Sato said Kabosu’s appetite has returned, she previously blogged that the dog was moving less and slower.
Kabosu became one of the most recognizable animals on the internet when a 2010 photo of her posing with folded paws and a questioning expression spread on Reddit, Tumblr and 4Chan, covered in an imaginary inner monologue in broken English using scattered Comic Sans text. Netizens soon began photographing Kabosu’s face on pastries, monuments, and other animals. The meme was later co-opted by brands like Oreo and the Stockholm Metro.
The popularity of the “doge” meme was cemented in December 2013, when two programmers introduced an alternative cryptocurrency called Dogecoin as a tongue-in-cheek response to Bitcoin that reflected the internet’s love of animal memes. It reached a peak value of over $400 in 2014 and is considered the first cryptocurrency “meme coin” or satire.
Elon Musk is a fanand Dogecoin has sponsored England’s Watford Football Club, with Kabosu’s face appearing on the team’s shirt sleeves.
Kabosu’s legacy can also be seen in the popularity of other shiba inu-related memes that have grown in popularity in the 2020s, including the North Atlantic Fellas Organization, a pro-Ukrainian social media movement dedicated to making fun of Russia’s war effort and to counter misinformation.
After raising funds for Ukraine’s military, the country’s defense ministry tweeted its thanks with a photoshopped image of a shiba inu in fatigues.
In Sato’s most recent posts on Kabosu, she said the dog was “in a very dangerous condition” and appeared to have jaundice, but was also taking antibiotics. But she also thanked Kabosu fans for their support, saying she was “getting energy from all over the world!”