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Kabosu, internet sensation dog that inspired meme and Dogecoin, has died, her owner says

The Japanese dog whose photo inspired a generation of oddball online jokes and the $23-billion Dogecoin cryptocurrency beloved by Elon Musk died on Friday, her owner said.

"She quietly passed away as if asleep while I caressed her," Atsuko Sato wrote on her blog, thanking the fans of her shiba inu, whose name was Kabosu — the face of the "Doge" meme.

"I think Kabo-chan was the happiest dog in the world. And I was the happiest owner," Sato wrote.

Representation of Dogecoin cryptocurrency
Representation of Dogecoin cryptocurrency is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland in January 2022. Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto via Getty Images

As a rescue dog, Kabosu's real birthday was unknown but Sato estimated her age at 18, past the average lifespan for a shiba inu, with her birthday celebrated in November.

In 2010, two years after adopting Kabosu from a puppy mill where she would otherwise have been put down, Sato took a picture of her pet crossing her paws on the sofa.

She posted that image on her blog, from where it spread to online forum Reddit and became a meme that bounced from college bedrooms to office email chains.

Kabosu, the Japanese shiba inu that inspired a meme and a $23 billion cryptocurrency, has died. Its owner, Atsuko Sato, posted this image to her blog when she announced Kabosu's death.  Atsuko Sato

The memes typically used goofy broken English to reveal the inner thoughts of Kabosu and other shiba inu "doge" -- pronounced like pizza "dough" but with a "j" at the end.

The picture also later became an NFT digital artwork that sold for $4 million and inspired Dogecoin, which was started as a joke by two software engineers and is now the eighth-most valuable cryptocurrency with a market capitalization of $23 billion.

Dogecoin has been backed by hip-hop star Snoop Dogg, "Shark Tank" entrepreneur Mark Cuban and Kiss bassist Gene Simmons.

But its most keen supporter was probably the billionaire Elon Musk, who joked about the currency on X — sending its value soaring — and hailed it as "the people's crypto."

Dogecoin has also inspired a plethora of other cheap and highly volatile "memecoins," including spin-off Shiba Inu and others based on dogs, cats or Donald Trump.

Kabosu fell ill with leukemia and liver disease in late 2022, and Sato said in a recent interview with Agence France-Presse in her home of Sakura, east of Tokyo, that the "invisible power" of prayers from fans worldwide helped her pull through.

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