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Shiba inu behind ‘Doge’ meme diagnosed with leukemia and liver disease, owner says

Kabosu stopped eating and drinking on Christmas Eve, but her appetite has since returned, her owner, Atsuko Sato, shared on Instagram.

The shiba inu behind the renowned “Doge” meme is ill with leukemia and liver disease, according to her owner. 

The dog, named Kabosu, is in “dangerous condition,” her owner, Atsuko Sato, a teacher who lives in Japan, shared in a series of Instagram posts this week. 

Kabosu was diagnosed with acute cholangiohepatitis, a liver condition, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of blood cancer, Sato said in a post Tuesday. 

She said Kabosu also appeared to have jaundice and was taking antibiotics.

"Doge" is the nickname given to Kabosu, a Japanese Shiba Inu, who rose to online fame in 2013.

Kabosu stopped eating and drinking on Christmas Eve, Sato said in a post earlier this week, adding that they visited a hospital the same day. In a follow-up post Tuesday, she said that Kabosu's appetite returned and that she could drink water. 

Sato said she and Kabosu are powering through with the support of their fans around the globe.

Kabosu became an internet sensation after Sato posted a photo of her pup to her personal blog in 2010. In the photo, Kabosu has her paws crossed with a slight smirk on her face.

The photo made the rounds on websites including Tumblr and Reddit in the 2010s; a Reddit user referred to the image as "Doge," birthing the “doge” meme.

The word “Doge” stems from the Flash cartoon “Homestar Runner.” In a 2005 episode, the titular character, Homestar, calls another character his “D-O-G-E.”

The meme is usually formatted with the image of Kabosu surrounded by broken English phrases like “Wow. So scare” and “What r u doing?”

Sato has said she was shocked that the photo skyrocketed in popularity. She said she usually takes and posts photos of her camera-loving dog to her blog but never suspected that particular image would make her pet famous.

“When I first found out about the Kabosu memes, I was very surprised. 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,” Sato said in a statement.

"Doge" had a recent resurgence with the popularity of Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency branded after the meme. 

In 2021 the iconic “Doge” meme sold as a non-fungible token for a whopping $4 million.