The world’s cutest food stand manager tragically passed away on June 6, 2021. Ken the Shiba Inu managed a sweet potato stand in the city of Sapporo, Japan located on the island of Hokkaido.
Ken passed away young, at six years old.
Ken the Shiba Inu had his own Instagram run by his owner, and on May 31, it was announced that Ken was ill and had to undergo some medical treatment. Several days later, Ken was sent home with a bleak diagnosis and his own oxygen house waiting.
— imoya KEN! (@ImoyaKen) April 27, 2021
An oxygen house, or cage, is a small box for dogs, cats, and other pets to receive oxygen and to undergo oxygen therapy; although in the case of Ken, it appeared to be a make-shift chamber. The purpose of an oxygen house is to treat underlying respiratory problems and alleviate pain.
Ken’s owner never said what their dog had, but it’s worth pointing out that Shiba Inus can suffer from chylothorax, a condition where there is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the chest. All dogs can suffer from this condition, but it’s more commonly seen in Shiba Inus and Afghan Hounds.
最後に大好きだった お店のあるおうちに帰ってこれて よかったとおもいます。
皆様 本当に ありがとうございました。 pic.twitter.com/OxaUVlv9gu
— imoya KEN! (@ImoyaKen) June 6, 2021
The final update came on June 6 when it was announced that Ken passed away at 12:50 pm back home at the sweet potato stand.
Ken had been “working” at the potato stand since he was two years old, according to the official website. The stand is called Ino no Yakiimoyasan which translates to the aptly named Dog’s Roasted Sweet Potato Stand and he was the only one working there.
— imoya KEN! (@ImoyaKen) January 22, 2020
Ken didn’t have anyone else working there. Transactions relied completely on the honor system. The stand initially sold roasted sweet potatoes worth 200 yen, about $2, and customers have to insert the coin in a small slot on the side. At any point, someone could walk right over and steal a bag of sweet potatoes or Ken merchandise, but it appears Ken’s charismatic persona was enough to deter thieves.
Ken’s owner never truly left him alone for long. His owner would come by from time to time to check up on him and take him on walks. A space heater was installed for winter days and a fan for the blazing summer heat.
雪め チラチラ したワン！
— imoya KEN! (@ImoyaKen) April 8, 2021
The good boy was a hard worker as he was always happy to help out customers whenever they approached, although I have to wonder how much of a help Ken was without thumbs and inability to give change. Still, he was a hard worker to the very end and was probably the highlight of many people’s day. According to a real-life account, as soon as Ken hears customers approach, he perks right up and greets people.
Rest in Peace, Ken. You’ve been a very good boy. Now, it’s time to rest.