Ball Ball, better known to his internet fans as Cheems Balltze
CNN  — 

Cheems Balltze, a little dog whose smiling face and stocky physique went viral in memes about his passion for cheeseburgers, has died after a short battle with cancer.

The 12-year-old Shiba Inu, also known as Ball Ball, underwent thoracentesis surgery on Friday but never woke up, his owner, Kathy, wrote in a post on Instagram. She said Ball Ball was set to receive further treatment for his cancer after the operation.

The chubby dog with a “round smiling face” was loved by many, his owner said. She asked fans not to be sad but instead to “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 is completed,” the post said. “I believe he is running freely in the sky and having a lot of delicious food with his new friends.”

Ball Ball, who lived in Hong Kong, rose to fame in 2017 after an Instagram user commented that he “looks like Cheese,” the dog’s website says – an incident that later established his stage name “Cheems” or “Cheemsburger”. His owner had begun posting pictures of him on Instagram two years earlier, to document his moods.

He was also famous for the meme “Swole Doge vs. Cheems,” which depicts an exaggeratedly muscular dog alongside a meek smaller dog.

Kathy documented his cancer on Instagram after announcing the diagnosis in May. Thanking followers for their support throughout his journey, she said she hoped “he can continue to bring joy to everyone in the online world, that’s my only humble request.”

“I’m truly grateful to all of you, 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,” the post said. “Balltze knows how much he was loved by all of you.”