A pet dog who went viral when she was stolen but recovered hours later thanks to a Twitter campaign for sightings has died aged 14.
Cabbage, the collie cross of former BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones, trended on Twitter in mid-November when she and five other dogs were taken in a dog walker’s van in Acton, west London.
The 63-year-old, who thanked his 197,000 Twitter followers when all six dogs were found safely the same day, has shared the news that his family have “had to say goodbye” to “lovely, energetic” Cabbage.
“For 14 years she was a lovely, energetic and really smart member of our family,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It was time for her to go but we miss her so much.”
Cabbage already had an online following before she was stolen as Cellan-Jones regularly documented their early morning walks with pictures posted to his feed.
On Friday morning he shared a final picture, writing: “Home after a gentle stroll.”
He thanked his followers for their support, adding that the park on his daily walk this morning “felt empty”.
BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker and broadcaster Sophie Raworth offered their condolences.
“So sorry to hear that Rory,” Walker replied, while Raworth said she “loved Cabbage’s adventures”.
Cellan-Jones’s tweets have quickly accrued more than 10,000 likes.
Cabbage’s plight went viral last year after her dog walker left his van’s engine running with the key in the ignition in west London and it was stolen.
Cellan-Jones quickly appealed to users online for any sightings, garnering thousands of likes and retweets.
“Something terrible has happened,” he wrote at the time.
“Our dog walker’s van with our dog Cabbage in it has been stolen while he was picking up another pet… Please look out for a black Ford Transit.”
“This was (an) extraordinary outpouring of concern… Social media has lots of negative sides, but you can use it for really good purposes,” Cellan-Jones told the PA news agency at the time.
After hearing the story, Ford’s press office got in touch to alert the dog walker that the van had a feature which enabled drivers to track the vehicle through an app.
“Ford would not have known about this before the age of social media,” Cellan-Jones said.
The van was located in Park Royal, around a mile-and-a-half from where four of the dogs were soon found, with the other two located the same evening.
More than 60,000 Twitter users celebrated Cabbage’s safe return by liking the former journalist’s celebratory tweet and photo of his dog back home.