On June 6 2021, the world’s most unlikely cashier, Ken, a furry and four-legged Shiba Inu, unfortunately passed away.
For years, the adorable little dog manned (or ‘dogged’) a roast sweet potato stand in Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido in Japan.
On May 31, Ken’s Instagram feed was updated with an announcement, saying that the canine was feeling a little “sick”.
However, the update reassured that the Shiba Inu will do “its best” while undergoing medical treatment.
Five days later on June 5, an update said that while the furry, four legged creature was not in tip top condition yet, it had returned home along with an “oxygen house” in tow.
Ken’s final update came on June 6.
It said that the Shiba Inu had passed away at 12:50pm and had gone back to his “favourite (sweet potato) shop”.
Ken was six years old when it passed.
The update also thanked the public for the support that Ken had received.
From the age of two onwards, Ken “worked” at Inu no Yakiimoyasan, the sweet potato stand, according to their website.
Ken quickly became a popular fixture at the sweet potato booth stand in Sapporo, Hokkaido and has been visited by tourists and the likes of Lonely Planet.
Besides standing sentry in the booth, the Shiba Inu also greeted patrons warmly.
While Ken might not be the best at cashiering due to the minor issue of not having opposable thumbs, the canine more than makes up for it by requesting a “zero hourly wage”.
Besides, this was easily resolved with a sign that read: “Because I’m a dog, I can’t give change.”
Ever the dutiful employee, the canine was present at the booth no matter the season.
According to Ken’s owner, at first he did not intend to set up a sweet potato stand.
It all started when the Shiba Inu’s owner was baking sweet potatoes for himself outdoors. The wafting aroma of sweet potatoes roasting drew an audience, and, in particular the elderly residing in the neighbourhood.
He then decided to offer the baked sweet potatoes for free.
But when demand for the hot tubers picked up, it struck Ken’s owner that he should go into business.
Shortly after launching the stand, Ken’s owner enlisted his fluffy companion into operating the booth.
The stand, which initially only offered roasted sweet potatoes, slowly expanded its offerings.
Patrons could choose between a roast Red Haruka sweet potato for JP¥200, a seasonal roast corn, or merchandise featuring the fluffy mascot.
To pay for their wares, patrons just had to drop a coin into a coin slot.
They can then proceed to a box situated within the stand to pick their purchased items.
Part of the sales is donated to an animal welfare organization, according to the website.