In brief

  • Kabosu, the dog that popularised the "Doge" meme, is recovering from vestibular disease.
  • The pup, now 14, is being cared for by her owner, who's posing daily updates on her condition.
  • "Doge" was voted meme of the decade last year, and has its own cryptocurrency, Dogecoin.

Kabosu, the superstar mutt behind the incredibly popular Internet meme “Doge,” and its spin-off, joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin, is recovering from vestibular disease—a debilitating condition that affects balance and coordination and can be lethal. 

The now 14-year-old pup is a rescue dog—one of 19 Shiba Inus abandoned when a Japanese puppy mill closed down. Some were killed, but Kabosu was fortunate to be adopted by 58-year-old Atsuko Sato, a kindergarten teacher in Japan. She dotes on the plucky pup, and is nursing her back to health, posting daily updates on Kabosu’s recovery on her popular blog.

Kaboso's owner is posting regular updates on her recovery. Image: Facebook

On Sunday, Sato posted that the pup had barked for the first time, and earlier this month, she posted videos of Kaboso enjoying a walk, but the elderly canine still appeared decidedly shaky on her feet. 

Much Fame

It was Sato’s blog that propelled Kabosu to Internet fame. She started it in June 2009, using pictures of her rescue animals to raise awareness about the dangers of puppy mills and adopted pets. It quickly found an audience among pet lovers, but Kabosu really hit global fame in 2013, as the face of the Doge meme and the spoof cryptocurrency Dogecoin. 

Dogecoin: so much wow Image: Shutterstock

Reportedly, it all started with a post on Reddit which titled an image of a corgi with "LMBO LOOK @ THIS FUKKIN DOGE.” But the name quickly became synonymous with silly dog photos and fractured phrases—like “So. Much. Wow,” written in multicolored Comic Sans script. The words are meant to be a spoof on the dog's internal monologue and evolved from the Tumblr Shiba Confessions, which launched in September 2012.

In the past ten years, the meme has been adopted by everyone from politicians to Elon Musk, and has been voted the top meme of the last decade. It’s been plastered all over the Internet, on a Twinkie wrapper, a giant rock, a Canadian landscape, a Christmas sweater… you name it.

Doge was adopted by Jackson Palmer and Billy Markus, for their joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin in 2013. Explaining why he chose the meme, Palmer said he’d been influenced by a post extolling the meme as a prime example of what makes internet culture so awesome: “it’s nonsensical, illogical, inexplicable, and yet totally hilarious and addictive,” on Gawker.

Kaboso in the pose she made famous. Image: Instagram

“I'd always loved the doge meme, and had just read an article by Adrian Chen about it actually being a good meme,” he told the International Business Times in 2014. “Combined with my interest in cryptocurrency at the time, I put the two together and laughed to myself. Thankfully I decided to share my personal joke with the world.”

But not long after, Palmer became disillusioned with the project. One of the deciding factors that led to him turning his back on it was his lack of support for the trademarking of “Dogecoin,” and the Doge image. 

Despite Palmer’s departure, Dogecoin has thrived. Like many cryptos, it’s seen peaks and troughs during recent years, but as recently as July a viral video and tweet by Elon Musk set it pumping again. 

And Kabosu? Nursed lovingly back to health by Sato, she’s thriving again too.