Kabosu the Shiba Inu went from rescue pup to internet celebrity Kabosu the Shiba Inu rests in the office of her owner, Atsuko Sato, in Sakura, Japan, March 19, 2024 © AFP / Philip Fong

Kabosu, the Japanese Shiba Inu that shot to fame as the ‘doge’ meme, has died after a battle with leukemia and liver disease. Since it was first posted online more than a decade ago, the iconic image of Kabosu has been shared countless times and is now the face of the world’s eighth-most valuable cryptocurrency.

“On the morning of the 24th of May, Kabosu crossed the rainbow bridge. Thank you all so much for your support over the years,” her owner, Atsuko Sato, wrote on Instagram. “She went very peacefully without suffering, as if falling asleep while feeling the warmth of my hands petting her.”

Sato adopted Kabosu in 2008, taking her from an animal shelter after she had been rescued from a puppy farm. Earlier this year, Sato told local media that Kabosu was 17 years old, three years older than the typical lifespan of a Shiba Inu.

Back in 2010, Sato took a photo of Kabosu with her legs crossed and posted it to her blog. The photo became a viral sensation, and images of the smirking dog with broken English captions like “wow, so excite” and “much happy” soon proliferated online. These ‘Doge’ memes inspired a group of software developers to create a cryptocurrency bearing Kabosu’s face as a joke, but the coin became a hit and now has a market capitalization of $23.5 billion, making it the world’s eighth-most valuable cryptocurrency.

World-famous meme dog dies in Hong Kong World-famous meme dog dies in Hong Kong

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World-famous meme dog dies in Hong Kong

Among Dogecoin’s fans is Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who announced in 2020 that Tesla would accept Dogecoin as payment for merchandise. After purchasing Twitter in 2022, Musk briefly changed the site’s bird logo to an image of Kabosu’s head last April. Musk’s continued promotion of Dogecoin – which he has called “the people’s cryptocurrency” – has seen him accused of market manipulation.

“Rest in peace,” Musk wrote on Friday, responding to an X (formerly Twitter) post announcing Kabosu’s death.

Kabosu was diagnosed with leukemia and liver disease in 2022. Speaking to AFP last month, Sato credited “the invisible power” of her fans’ prayers with helping the 17-year-old dog pull through.

Kabosu has already been immortalized with a $100,000 statue in her home city of Sakura, which was crowdfunded by Own The Doge, an organization that promotes the meme and has developed its own spinoff cryptocurrency. Save the Doge and Sato have also made substantial donations to charity, including more than $1 million to Save the Children.