In late December, the BBC’s former technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones took Sophie, a terrified rescue dog into his home.
His story of how patience, pet psychology and delicious scraps of food are slowly helping a traumatized rescue dog settle into his family home documented on Twitter have attracted thousands of followers under the hashtag #sophieinromania — and offered people hope.
Celian Jones, 64, who worked for the BBC for more than 40 years until he left in 2021, described how the ‘terrified’ Romanian rescue dog has struggled to settle at their family home.
She arrived at 3am just before Christmas, after a 72-hour van journey from Romania and initially spent most of her time since hiding behind the sofa. Efforts to persuade the dog to go outside had failed.
Cellan-Jones, who lives with his wife Diane in West London, told BBC Breakfast: ‘She was much more frightened than we’d imagined.’
He said the family had been following a pet psychology program to try and help her feel more at home but that it had been ‘two steps forward one step back’ so far.
But eventually, Mr Cellan-Jones and Mrs Coyle managed to slowly bring Sophie out of her shell – while documenting their journey on Twitter.
But one month later, she has now even begun running around the garden.
The hashtag “Sophie from Romania” has developed a massive following and received worldwide press coverage.
During their rising popularity, the couple received hundreds of pieces of advice from fans on social media regarding Sophie.
But despite being well-meaning, it was often contradictory and confusing, the Press and Journal reported.
However, a dog trainer from Aberdeenshire, Scotland stepped in and has been helping the couple by Zoom before traveling down to London in mid-January.
Simon Woolen, 56, advised the couple to “take it at the dog’s pace”.
It involves recognizing the need for patience and allowing her to slowly acclimate to her new surroundings and to the new people.
The strategy involves making positive associations with food to change her emotions from fearful of her new world to happy to see it.
Sophie from Romania continues to attract high-profile fans who follow her progress as she slowly develops more confidence.
Presenter and broadcaster Nick Grimshaw wrote on Twitter he was “obsessed” with Sophie and she “kept me going” while he was ill.