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Cheems, a Shiba Inu turned meme, is mourned by the internet


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Balltze, the Shiba Inu who’s better known online as Cheems and has inspired countless memes over the years, has died. He was 12.

Posting to Instagram on Saturday, Balltze’s owner Kathy said that Balltze fell asleep during thoracentesis surgery (a procedure to remove fluid around the lungs) the day before and didn’t wake up again. Balltze (who Kathy also calls Ball Ball) had been diagnosed with pancreatitis in late May, and over the past few months, Kathy shared updates about his prognosis and procedures he had done (including thoracentesis).

Kathy urged people to remember how happy he made people and noted how he became a bright spot during the pandemic.

“Don’t be sad, please remember the joy that Balltze brought to the world,” Kathy wrote. “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. I believe he is running freely in the sky and having a lot of delicious food with his new friends. He will always be inside my heart. I hope he can continue to bring joy to everyone in the online world, that’s my only humble request.”

Balltze’s brush with fame happened pre-pandemic: In 2017, Kathy’s photo of her dog appearing to give a side-eye went viral, helping to fuel an entire range of ironic doge memes. While Kobosu (another internet-famous Shiba Inu who was diagnosed with leukemia last year) offered a wide-eyed stare, Balltze was more amusingly judgmental in memes; one of his more famous appearances was in the “Go to Horny Jail” meme, where he bonks another dog with a bat.

Kobosu and Balltze are so closely linked that some people mistakenly posted their condolences for the former dog instead of the latter.

The name Cheems, which is short for “Cheemsburbger” (Doge speak for cheeseburgers), originated in 2019 from the DogeLore subreddit.

As news of Balltze’s death spread, people shared their condolences and some of Balltze’s best memes.

Never failed to put a smile on my face. I'm sure just the sight of Cheems made countless people out there, at one point or the other, laugh out loud, smile or at least feel a little lighter. Thanks for all the smiles you elicited. Rest well, buddy. 💚 https://t.co/k2tJNFALDG

— Ram Venkat Srikar (@RamVenkatSrikar) August 19, 2023

Kathy ended her post announcing Balltze’s death by thanking everyone who showed their support over the years, including after his diagnosis.

“All of you have been very generous and helpful, and I’m truly grateful to all of you,” she said. “your love and support to Ball Ball is so unconditional and I found that is the purest love in the world, having Ball Ball in my life is the best thing ever happened.”

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*First Published: Aug 21, 2023, 4:49 pm CDT

Michelle Jaworski

Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and TV/film critic at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF, and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She is based in Brooklyn.

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