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A dog at the center of an internet craze has died at the age of 12 in Hong Kong.

Cheems, also known as Balltze or Ball Ball, became famous for his mischievous look that sparked many viral memes. He was diagnosed with leukemia in December 2022 and had been undergoing treatment ever since, but passed away after a thoracentesis procedure on Friday.

The owner took to social media to announce the sad news, saying that the dog had “completed  his mission” and encouraging fans to remember “the joy that Balltze brought to the world.” 

“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,” the owner wrote, adding that pooch will always be “inside my heart.”

While not as ubiquitous as another Shiba Inu from the original Doge meme, Balltze was immortalized by popular memes including ‘Swole doge vs Cheems’ after one of his photographs vent viral in 2019.

Cheems’ fans wept his sudden death on the internet, with one user creating an image showing the canine sitting on a cloud ladder in heaven, with angel wings and a halo.

“Forever in our hearts. Always brought in so much joy on my feed. Rest easy, Balltze,” another user lamented.

Balltze was adopted by a family from Hong Kong when he was just a year old, and became famous when one of his photographs spread online in 2019. Balltze had his own Instagram account where his daily mood pictures were shared by his owner. His love for cheeseburgers earned him his nickname Cheems. 

“Though he's no longer with us, his iconic memes will continue to thrive on our devices,” an X/Twitter user wrote, adding that “Cheem’s legacy remains undiminished.”