Kabosu the Doge in Sakura, Japan

In 2008, kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato rescued a shiba inu named Kabosu from a puppy mill. Like many pet owners, she took a lot of photos of her dog and posted them on her blog. One of those photos wound up capturing the attention of the internet. In the now-iconic photo, Kabuso is looking at the camera with a skeptical side-eye, paws crossed daintily in front of her. You might not know Kabuso by her actual name, but by the meme this photo inspired: doge.

Doge (pronounced with a long o and a soft g, like bread “dough” with a “j” at the end) was at the heart of a meme that used overlaid text on the image to reveal an internal monologue,  typically short phrases that started with “much” or “very.” The text was almost always in multicolored comic sans. As the meme format grew more popular, basically any picture of a shiba inu could be a doge. Sometimes even other breeds got the meme format. But there was always something special about Kabuso.

In 2021, that photo of Kabuso became an NFT digital artwork that sold for over $4 million. It also inspired a cryptocurrency called Dogecoin, which began as a joke but now has a multibillion-dollar market capitalization.

Offline, Kabuso lived a happy life, blissfully unaware of her status as an internet icon. Sato took her on long walks through their home in Sakura, and continued documenting their adventures on her blog. On Kabosu’s 17th birthday, fans launched an online crowdfunding campaign to create a monument to the shiba inu. It was fully funded within 12 hours. In November 2023, the monument was unveiled in Sakura Furusato Square. A bronze statue of Kabuso—in her famous pose, of course—sits on a stone couch, surrounded by a few bronze cats, Sato’s other pets.

On May 24, 2024, Sato announced on her blog that Kabosu had died at the age of 18. In the post, Sato wrote that she was sure that Kabuso was the happiest dog in the world, and lucky to be loved by so many people. 


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