We can’t believe it either. On May 26, Atsuko Sato, nursery school teacher and owner of the internet-famous Shiba Inu, Kabosu, arranged a farewell ceremony to mark the death of her beloved dog. Kabosu, better known as “Doge” online, was 18 years old and had passed away due to a seizure just several days prior.

The Doge Meme

The Doge meme is one of the 2010s most recognizable memes online. It features Kabosu sitting on a couch with her paws crossed and her face bearing a comically quizzical expression. The typical meme format for Doge includes the use of short phrases with intentionally grammatically incorrect modifiers such as “Very winter. Many freeze.” Meme explanation site Know Your Meme ranked Doge as the top meme of 2013. The image of Kabosu went on to inspire a whole cryptocurrency based on the Doge meme, called Dogecoin, which was launched later that year.

In pop culture, Doge has been featured in everything from Swedish transportation advertising campaigns to Doge-themed Easter eggs by Google and YouTube. In April 2023, Elon Musk replaced Twitter’s blue bird logo with an image of Doge, with some speculating it as an April Fool’s Joke or an attempt to boost the aforementioned cryptocurrency’s value.

The Life and Legacy of Kabosu

Internet memes aside, what Kabosu is and always will be is Sato’s beloved pet.

“She was like a life partner,” said Sato when she was reminiscing at the memorial about her 15 years alongside Kabosu. A line of more than 50 fans attended, including media outlets from as far as the Middle East and Germany. Many brought photos, stuffed toys and even wore T-shirts bearing Kabosu’s image, indicating how much of an influence the dog had on their lives.

Both Kabosu and Sato are also known for their generosity and willingness to help those in need. In 2021, Sato raised more than 500 million yen for children’s rights groups in Japan and overseas, through the auctioning of photos of Kabosu. As she grew older, Sato often took the Shiba Inu to kindergartens via wheelchair, in an attempt to cheer up both the dog and the children that enjoyed petting and playing with her.

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