Shiba Inu behind ‘Doge’ meme has cancer and liver disease, owner says

Kabosu, the Shiba Inu behind the viral “Doge” meme, is seriously sick with cancer and an acute liver disease, her owner said.

In a series of Instagram posts this week, the beloved pup’s owner, Atsuko Sato, said her dog is in a “very dangerous condition” after being diagnosed with chronic lymphoma leukemia and acute cholangiohepatitis, which is characterized by an inflamed liver.

“Right now the liver level is very bad and jaundice appears,” said Sato, who is a teacher in Japan. “But antibiotics will definitely improve” Kabosu’s condition, she said.

Earlier this week, Kabosu’s owner revealed that the 17-year-old Shiba Inu had not been eating or drinking water on Christmas Eve. But in her most recent post, Sato said the dog’s appetite had returned and showed Kabosu in several videos eating, drinking and resting next to a cat friend.

“Kabosu has an appetite,” the owner wrote. “She can also drink water.”

The internet-famous dog became popular after social media users began using a 2010 photo from Sato’s personal blog that showed Kabosu appearing to smirk. 

The photo quickly became a meme and would often appear with comic sans captions that were written in a way that user’s imagined a dog’s inner dialogue might sound — grammatically incorrect, two-word sentences.

The name itself originates from a 2005 episode of the comedic web series “Homestar Runner” in which a character misspells the word “dog” aloud. A user on Reddit posted Kabosu’s picture and referred to the Shiba Inu as “Doge,” changing its meaning forever.

In the past, Sato said she had no idea how popular Kabosu’s image would become.

“When I first found out about the Kabosu memes, I was very surprised,” she said in a blog. “I was terrified at the thought that just one photo I had casually posted on my blog could spread all over the world to places I didn’t know.”

Dogecoin logo displayed on a mobile phone Dogecoin logo is displayed on a mobile phone screen photographed for illustration photo on May 6, 2021. Dogecoin, the meme cryptocurrency styled after an internet-famous Shiba Inu that was launched as a joke in 2013.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Kabosu’s influence didn’t stop with an internet meme. Eventually, the photo and “Doge” title became the face of joke cryptocurrency, Dogecoin, which Elon Musk has repeatedly tweeted about — often corresponding with a brief surge in value.

In 2021, an NFT of Kabosu’s iconic picture sold for $4 million.

In her most recent post, Sato thanked Kabosu’s many fans for their support and concern.

“To all of you who are worried, thank you very much.”

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