“Look Liz,” he says quietly, pointing. “It’s a Shibe.”
I visibly struggle to control my delight and excitement, twitching. Breathlessly I beg, “Can we go near it?”
He complies, somewhat exasperated. As we approach the upright, dignified fellow with a curly tail, I feel like screaming — but I don’t. Instead I whisper, “I want to pet him.”
But I’m too giddy to ask, and the Shibe trots on by.
“Wow!” I squeal, “How doge!“
The “Shibe” I am referring to is a Shiba Inu, and “doge” is the dog meme poised to wrest the Internet from the grips of LOLcat. If you don’t know what doge is, I attempt to explain it here — and my efforts are sort of in vain. Doge transcends logic, existing in a realm made possible only by the Internet.
It all started a couple years ago, with a couple of Internet inside jokes that eventually found their way to a particular photo of a standoffish Shiba Inu, where the dog’s inner monologue was kindly revealed in electric colored Comic Sans.
But who is the dog in the photo?
That would be Kabosu, who was adopted from a shelter in 2008. She’d been saved from a puppy mill that closed down, along with 19 other dogs. Some found their ways into forever homes — most of them ended up another tragic statistic. Kabosu’s name refers to a Japanese citrus fruit and the dog earned the name because her face reminded a shelter volunteer of a Kabosu. Her human friend, Atsuko Sato, thought the name suited the dog, whom she says is very calm and dignified, and — contrary to what her doge portrait may suggest — loves to be photographed. Sato decided not to rename Kabosu.
Instead Sato created a blog to raise awareness of the dangers of puppy mills. According to the 51-year-old kindergarten teacher who lives in Japan with her husband, two cats, and Kabosu, the Shiba Inu suffers the effects of neglect, which is why Sato showers her with affection and attention. However, she wasn’t ready for the Internet attention Kabosu would eventually garner as the star of 2013’s most popular new meme.
Sato encountered Kabosu’s photo on the Internet in August of 2013, but it wasn’t quite the dog she knew — Kabosu had been transformed into doge. What started out as a simple blog of education where Sato wanted to share photos of her beloved Kabosu has become the foundation for the banner meme of 2013, headlining Internet news sites such as BuzzFeed, ReadWrite, and io9.
Of Kabosu’s unexpected cyber fame, Sato says, “I learned that the risk of the Internet is that anyone in the world can see my life on my blog.”
Which brings me to a thought or two. Until doge, the Shiba Inu wasn’t even on my radar. I’m only mildly embarrassed to admit that it’s become my new favorite meme, eliciting real life excitement whenever I see the breed, which, only a few months prior, was invisible to me. (I have a thing for larger breeds, so I tend to pay more attention to bigger dogs.) I know lots of you maintain blogs starring your dog friends, but what do you do when one of those photos morphs into a totally new phenomenon that is likely out of your control? Do you ride the wave of fame, like Internet celebri-kitties Grumpy Cat and Lil BUB have? Do you use your fame as a platform to bring attention to more important issues like puppy mills?
Have any of you found yourself in this position?
Either way, let’s raise a toast to doge, Kabosu the rescued puppy mill Shiba Inu, and the inexplicable, unpredictable inside jokes of the Internet as a reflection of our more ridiculous natures.
Oh, and P.S.: You can make your own doge right here!
Via The Verge
Read more about cuteness and rescue on Dogster:
About Liz Acosta: Dogster’s former Cuteness Correspondent, Liz still manages the site’s daily “Awws,” only now she also wrangles Dogster’s social media. That’s why she wants you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and — her personal favorite — Instagram. See ya there!