The Hong Kong Shiba Inu dog who became famous for appearing in ‘Cheems’ memes, passed away on August 18. Balltze, or Ball Ball, as he was also known, died while undergoing a thoracentesis surgery.

“Ball Ball fell asleep on 18/8. He fell asleep on Friday morning during his last thoracentesis surgery. Originally, we wanted to arrange chemotherapy or other possible treatment for him after this operation, but it is too late now,” said his owner Kathy in a post on Instagram.

Balltze went viral after an image of him glancing at the camera with a knowing ‘smile’ was used in a series of memes. The most famous is his online meme persona Cheems, who adds the letter ‘M’ to words when he speaks, and is known for his love of ‘cheemsburgers’.

He is also known for the ‘Swole Doge vs Cheems’ meme series that went viral in 2020. In them, a muscular version of another Shiba Inu represents something considered better in the past, while Cheems shows the same thing in its current, lesser form.

A meme showing two Shiba Inu dogs. The image on the left shows a muscular dog with a pirate hat, bandana, and eye patch. The image on the right shows a dog sitting down in front of a laptop with a Deathly Hallows sticker, with tears photoshopped onto its face.
A ‘Swole Doge vs Cheems’ meme, with Balltze on the right

Balltze became the face of a cryptocurrency token, and also had his own website where people could buy merchandise like tote bags, enamel pins, and sweatshirts. Kathy revealed that the money she was sent for his medical treatment will be donated to local animal charities.

Kathy first revealed that Balltze was ill in an Instagram post in May 2022. Since then, she has posted regular updates about Balltze’s condition, trips to the doctor, and test results. Tributes poured in from across the world from his Instagram followers after they heard about his passing.

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“Don’t be sad, please remember the joy that Balltze brought to the world. 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,” said Kathy.

Header image credits: @balltze via Instagram

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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