A dog who went viral when it was stolen and then found within hours thanks to a Twitter campaign has died aged 15.
Cabbage, former BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones’ crossbreed collie, was trending on Twitter last November when she and five other dogs were stolen along with a van in Acton, west London, after a dog walker left his keys in the ignition had.
Cellan-Jones, 63, who thanked his 197,000 Twitter followers when all six dogs were safely found on the same day, tweeted on Saturday morning: “We have very sad news. We had to say goodbye to our beloved Colliecross Cabbage.
“She was a lovely, energetic and really smart member of our family for 14 years. It was time for her to go but we miss her so much.”
Cellan-Jones thanked his followers for their support, adding: “For me and Cabbage, an early walk was an essential part of our daily routine, good for our mental and physical health. This morning I went out as normal, but the park seemed very empty. Thank you for all your kind messages.”
Cabbage already had an online following before it was stolen because Cellan-Jones regularly documented their morning walks on his feed.
On Friday morning, he shared a picture of a recent walk with Cabbage and wrote, “Home after a gentle walk.”
BBC breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Sky News broadcaster Ed Conway were among more than 1,000 well-wishers who offered their condolences.
BBC presenter Nuala McGovern wrote: “I’m so sorry Rory, loved Cabbage in my timeline and basically told me to get up and move outside.”
When Cabbage disappeared last winter, Cellan-Jones was quick to alert his followers and asked people to report any sightings, an appeal that was liked and shared by thousands in what the journalist described as an “extraordinary outburst of concern.”
“Something terrible happened,” he wrote at the time. “Our dog walker’s van with our dog, Cabbage, was stolen while picking up another pet… Please look for a black Ford Transit.”
Ford’s press office then came forward to alert the dog walker to a security feature that allowed him to track his van through an app. The van was at Park Royal and four of the dogs were soon found nearby. The other two were found that same evening.
More than 60,000 Twitter users liked an image celebrating Cabbage’s safe return, with Cellan-Jones saying after recovering his dog: “There’s a lot of negative sides to social media, but you can use them for really good causes.”