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For a moment, Cabbage was the most famous collie in the country after the dog’s theft in November sparked a social media storm that eventually led to its rescue.

But now Cabbage has taken a last walk, dying at the age of 15 after a short illness.

The dog’s owner, Rory Cellan-Jones, a former BBC technology correspondent, announced the death on Saturday, saying his family have “had to say goodbye” to their “lovely, energetic Cabbage”.

The 63-year-old told his 197,000 Twitter followers: “She was a lovely, energetic and really smart member of our family. It was time for her to go, but we miss her so much.”

Cabbage had suffered a bout of gastroenteritis a few weeks ago, and Cellan-Jones wrote: “She was already quite frail, and she was struggling to get up, which is just not good… and we just thought she’s not got any quality of life, it was tragic.”

We have some very sad news. We’ve had to say goodbye to our much loved Collie cross Cabbage. For 14 years she was a lovely , energetic and really smart member of our family. It was time for her to go but we miss her so much.

— Rory Cellan-Jones (@ruskin147) January 29, 2022

Cellan-Jones regularly documented their early morning walks on Twitter and on Friday morning he shared a final picture, writing: “Home after a gentle stroll”.

The theft of Cabbage and five other dogs in west London last year after their walker left his van’s engine running with the key in the ignition led to a concerted effort by social media users to find the missing animals.

Cellan-Jones wrote at the time: “Something terrible has happened. 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.”

The social media furore prompted Ford’s press office to get in touch to alert the dog walker that the van had a feature allowing drivers to it through an app. The vehicle was located in Park Royal, around a mile and a half from where four of the dogs were soon found, with the other two picked up the same evening.

Rory Cellan-Jones with his wife Diane and Cabbage after the stolen van containing six dogs was found

More than 60,000 Twitter users celebrated Cabbage’s safe return by liking Cellan-Jones’ celebratory tweet and photograph of his dog back at home.

Now the pet’s loss is being mourned. BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker and broadcaster Sophie Raworth offered condolences, with Raworth saying she had “loved Cabbage’s adventures”.

Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor, wrote on Twitter: “I became a big fan of Cabbage and her daily walks. How sad. I’m sorry.”

Thanking everyone for their messages, Clellan-Jones said: “This morning I went out as normal, but the park seemed very empty.”

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