Marnie, Who Went From Scraggly Shelter Dog To Internet Star, Dies At 18

"She enjoyed her chicken until the very end," read an emotional tribute to Marnie on Instagram, where the Shih Tzu had nearly 2 million followers.

Marnie, a Shih Tzu who went from a bedraggled street dog to one of the internet’s most famous and beloved canines, has died.

“It is with much grief I share the news that Marnie passed away painlessly & peacefully in my home on Thursday afternoon at the age of 18,” Marnie’s owner, Shirley Braha, wrote in an emotional post on Saturday on Marnie’s Instagram account, where she had 1.8 million followers.

“Her comfort had been notably declining over the past few days with little hope for improvement and she let me know she had had enough,” the post said. “She enjoyed her chicken until the very end.”

The post nodded to Marnie’s humble roots and her influence in promoting the adoption of shelter animals. Braha adopted Marnie in 2012 from a Connecticut animal shelter, where the dog had ended up after animal control officers picked her up on the street, according to The New York Times. Marnie was initially called “Stinky” because she smelled so bad.

“I’m amazed that the sweet little hot mess of a pup that I picked up from a shelter at age 11, who at first didn’t seem like she would be around very long at all, has managed to inspire others to adopt senior dogs,” Braha wrote. “When I hear from people that Marnie has made them adopt their senior dogs it’s truly the most beautiful legacy she and I could hope to leave in this world.”

Marnie at a benefit for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 2016.
Marnie at a benefit for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 2016.
David Livingston via Getty Images

Marnie’s bad smell was the result of 14 decaying teeth, according to the dog’s website, but her scent improved after she had dental surgery.

Her ascent to fame, which began when Braha started posting more photos of the dog online in 2014, was helped by her distinctive tongue, which was typically seen falling out of the side of her mouth to give her an adorably ridiculous appearance. Marnie’s website notes that her lolling tongue was not due to her missing teeth, but simply the fact that she had a long tongue. Adding to her unique appearance was her head tilt, which veterinarians said was likely caused by a past illness.

But Marnie’s social and sweet personality also played a major role in her popularity online. Braha told the Times that Marnie, who schmoozed with numerous celebrities, loved people and “loved to party.”

In her Instagram tribute, Braha wrote that the night of Marnie’s death, she dreamt about her “running around at a party completely happy and invincible.”

“She approached a descending staircase and I wanted to interject to protect her from falling, but she sailed right down the stairs and landed on her feet and stopped and looked at me and laughed and just kept going,” she wrote of the dream. “Maybe this was a message from her from heaven, but at minimum I can take solace knowing that for a long stretch of time, prior to her aging body taking its toll, heaven for her was right here on earth.”

John le Carré

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