Cheems Balltze, the dog behind viral images of the Shiba Inu enjoying cheeseburgers, died in his sleep on Aug. 18 amid a battle with cancer.
The dog, also called “Ball Ball”, was 12 years old at the time of his death. The Shiba Inu breed in particular is famous among cryptocurrency users as the basis of tokens like Shiba Inu (SHIB) and Dogecoin (DOGE), pushed by retail investors as well as high-profile figures like X CEO Elon Musk.
“Don’t be sad, please remember the joy that Balltze brought to the world,” said an Aug. 18 post on Cheems’ Instagram page. “A Shiba Inu with a round smiling face connecting you and me, he has helped many people during the pandemic and brought a lot of joy to many of you, but now his mission has completed.”
A different dog from Kabosu — the one featured in the meme on which Dogecoin was based — Cheems also appeared in shared images with the DOGE dog, such as in the meme ‘Swole Doge vs. Cheems’. Kabosu is expected to celebrate his 18th birthday in October but has also been experiencing significant health issues. The Doge meme went viral in 2013, prompting the creation of the token the same year by Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer.
Crypto users including those involved in the Dogecoin Foundation offered their condolences at the loss of Cheems and support for Kabosu’s continued health:
We are deeply saddened to learn of passing of Balltze, lovingly known as “Ball Ball”, and, to the wider internet, as “Cheems.” The Dogecoin community and internet at large mourn loss of a cherished shiba Inu who inspired millions around the world.
— Dogecoin Foundation (@DogecoinFdn) August 19, 2023
Memes of animals from cats to dolphins have often been the basis of token projects in the crypto space since its creation. In some real-world use cases, animals shelters have accepted DOGE and other coins as a way to encourage interest in spaying and neutering cats and dogs