The 'Wow So Real' Story Behind the Doge Meme


I always thought that photo of the round, yellow Shiba Inu that everyone was Dogeifying was a painting that perfectly mimicked the Thomas Kinkade aesthetic, but I was much wrong. That there is a real picture of a real dog, named Kabosu, who was saved from a puppy mill by Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato.

Intrepid reporter Kyle Chayka has the full story at The Verge, which goes like this: Sato had adopted Kab0su in 2008 after the puppy mill she was bred at closed and the owners abandoned her and 19 other Shibas. The teacher then started posting the dog’s pictures to her blog in order to raise awareness of puppy mills and pet adoption. In 2010, she uploaded that fateful snap of Kabosu reclining on a couch and gazing beatifically into the camera, unwittingly making the burgeoning Internet practice of posting pictures of Shiba Inus with funny text go viral three years later.

I’m a huge fan of Doge, even though intellectually I have no idea why pictures of some dog with broken Comic Sans phrases around her appeals to me so much. The evolution of the meme, as recounted by Chayka, also has me scratching my head:

Doge began as a string of seemingly random web phenomena. In October, 2010, the word popped up on Reddit with a popular post of a corgi photo titled “LMBO LOOK @ THIS FUKKIN DOGE.” As doge became synonymous with silly dog photos, the meme’s multicolored Comic Sans script evolved from the Tumblr Shiba Confessions, which launched in September, 2012 and described its mission as “funny text in Comic Sans over unrelated pictures of Shibas.”

Seriously, what kind of mad genius do you have to be to devote a tumblr to such a randomly specific concept as “funny text in Comic Sans over unrelated pictures of Shibas”? Sato seems as confused as I am, saying that maybe she doesn’t quite understand the meme’s appeal, because she lives an “analog life.” I have no such excuse, but whatever. This is obviously Doge’s world that we’re living in. I’ll just sit back in front of my computer, stare at this GIF, and marvel at the mystery.

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