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Here’s how an origin story is done

To Da Moon!


And though she had seen some of the images online, until just a week ago Sato had no idea what the doge meme actually was.

She had just wanted to share some cute pictures of her pets on the internet.

Very saved

The furry face that launched a thousand quips nearly never made it to the web. Sato adopted Kabosu from an animal shelter in November, 2008, saving her from certain death. “She was a pedigreed dog from a puppy mill, and when the puppy mill closed down, she was abandoned along with 19 other Shiba dogs,” the teacher explained. “Some of them were adopted, but the rest of them were killed.”

A volunteer at the shelter gave the dog her name, a type of Japanese citrus. “Her face is very round just like kabosu [fruit],” Sato said. “I thought the name was perfect, so I kept it.”

Doge“Her face is very round just like kabosu.”

Half a world away in California, Jonathan Fleming, whose Shiba Inu Suki has also been co-opted into the doge meme, reflects on the breed’s strong personalities. Shibas “tend to be very intelligent, aggressive, and aloof to other dogs,” he said. “They’re considered a primitive breed, almost like wild animals.” Shibas date back to the third century BCE when they were bred to flush game from bushes. “I think their temperament fits Japanese people,” Sato said. “They are very soboku,” or, “beautiful in a way that is natural, not contrived or artificial,” according to Laura Payton’s Shiba Inus: A Complete Owners Manual.

On February 23rd, 2010, before the meme had crystallized, Sato posted the fateful photo of Kabosu to her blog. The site is stocked with pictures of the Shiba Inu plus Sato’s two cats, Tsutsuji and Ginnan, frolicking with the teacher and her husband in and around their apartment 25 miles outside of Tokyo. “She was not loved when she was little, so I want to shower her with love as a member of my family,” Sato said.

“Kabosu is very different from the typical temperament of Shiba,” Sato explained. “She’s very gentle and calm; she loves being photographed.” The hundreds of photos on the blog have paid off, and not just on Reddit. Sato started her blog in June, 2009, aiming to raise awareness about the dangers of puppy mills and adopted pets, joining a network of pet blogs where Kabosu quickly found an audience. The site is now the fourth most popular pet blog in Japan, getting around 75,000 hits a month, according to With, the country’s largest blog-ranking website.

As Gawker’s Adrian Chen argued, the doge meme is a prime example of what makes internet culture so awesome: it’s nonsensical, illogical, inexplicable, and yet totally hilarious and addictive. There’s an order within doge’s illogic. One linguist argued that, contrary to the general trends of the internet, doge allows for the expression of complex philosophical ideas. “It’s a meme of contemplation rather than action,” io9’s Annalee Newitz wrote.