For Sophie Dahl, it was love at first sight. ‘I saw the amber eyes, gangling legs and ridiculously noble profile — and that was it.’ She’s not talking about her husband Jamie Cullum. She’s talking about her dog Jojo, a one-year-old mongrel she adopted after spotting her on the website of the Wild at Heart Foundation. Jojo had been found weeks earlier, starving, on the Greek island of Lesvos. ‘Something about her drew me in and, six weeks and much administration later, I went to pick her up from Heathrow with a bag of crispy bacon in my pocket. I loved her instantaneously.’
Based in Battersea, the foundation was set up last year by Nikki Tibbles and Nadine Kayser. As founder of the chic Wild at Heart boutiques in Westbourne Grove, Belgravia and within Liberty, florist Nikki knows a thing or two about romance — she has helped the path of true love run smoothly for more than a decade. So it’s fitting that she’s now using her profile and famous connections to raise awareness of the plight of the loves of her own life — rescue dogs.
The intention is to fund and support animal welfare projects all over the world, particularly to help reduce the world’s estimated 600m stray dogs, and to match-make abandoned and abused dogs from across Europe with loving owners in the UK. As well as Dahl, several of Nikki’s celebrity friends, including Sara MacDonald and Noel Gallagher, and hairdressing maestro Josh Wood, have taken on dogs from abroad. Wood says he’s completely smitten with Gandhi, a Romanian street dog he saw online. ‘We’re not sure what he is — we thought lurcher, Jack Russell cross — but he’s grown to the size of an Irish wolfhound,’ he jokes. ‘Not that it matters. It was love at first sight and now I can’t imagine a more loving, laid-back pet.’