Family bids farewell

Netanyahus mourn after ‘first dog’ Kaia dies

The adopted Alaskan canine spent several years in the Prime Minister’s Residence and, like the rest of her ‘family,’ was no stranger to controversy and scandal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his dog Kaia at the PM's residence in Jerusalem in December, 2015. (Facebook)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his dog Kaia at the PM's residence in Jerusalem in December, 2015. (Facebook)

Kaia, Israel’s first dog and a social media star who had made headlines for biting several people, including her owner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has died aged 12 after an illness, the prime minister announced Monday.

The Netanyahu family dog, who was adopted in 2015, fell ill recently, with the prime minister’s son Avner, who had reportedly been the closest to Kaia, breaking off his post-army service trip to New Zealand to tend to her.

“Our beloved Kaia is no more,” the prime minister wrote on his official Facebook page, recalling “the joy and light that she brought into our lives. From Kaia we learned what an animal’s soul and consciousness is.”

Netanyahu said the family dog collapsed two months ago and underwent two surgeries after a disc herniation in her neck that paralyzed her. After the attempts at treatment failed, Netanyahu, his wife, Sara, and their sons, Yair and Avner, came on Saturday “to say goodbye.”

קאיה האהובה שלנו איננה. לפני חודשיים קאיה התמוטטה בעקבות פריצת דיסק בצווארה ששיתקה אותה. היא עברה שני ניתוחים קשים…

Posted by ‎Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו‎ on Monday, February 26, 2018

Avner also eulogized Kaia on his Instagram page, writing that she had been “the best dog we could’ve asked for.”

Like the rest of her “family,” Kaia was embroiled in several scandals during her time as top dog.

In December 2015, she was quarantined for biting Likud MK Sharren Haskel, prompting the “Kaia bill,” legislation that would allow owners to quarantine their dogs at home rather than in kennels.

At a Hanukkah candle-lighting for Likud MKs hosted by the prime minister at his Jerusalem residence, the canine bit Haskel and attorney Or Alon, husband of Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

Haskel, a trained veterinary nurse, took to the former pound dweller immediately, playing with Kaia until at one point, startled by the growing commotion and crowds at the residence, Kaia bit her hand.

Kaia had also bitten Netanyahu himself earlier that year, Army Radio reported at the time, with the prime minister receiving rabies vaccinations following the bite, a standard procedure in such situations.

Also in 2017, a woman’s objection to Yair Netanyhahu’s failure to scoop up Kaia’s poop at a Jerusalem park prompted a rude gesture from the prime minister’s son, who then came under fierce media scrutiny.

And she even made an appearance on Conan.

She ate cucumbers out of Conan O’Brien’s hand last year, without biting him, when the comedian was in Israel last year to film a special episode of his late-night show. O’Brien joked at the time that “if you tried to give an American dog a cucumber, it would punch you.”

Kaia was adopted by the Netanyahus in July 2015 after their son, Avner, found her at a pound about to be put down.

“We are glad to have provided her a house and a family, thus prolonging her life by several years, and she in return provided us with a lot of happiness,” said the prime minister, calling on “anyone who can” to adopt elderly pets.

“Kaia was an Alaskan dog, purebred for seven generations,” said Netanyahu in his eulogy, adding that she was born in Givat Brenner, a kibbutz in central Israel, and had “won many beauty contests and displayed outstanding wisdom and sensitivity. We had been hoping that she return to us and get to experience snow in Jerusalem at least once in her life.

“Kaia was part of our family. We are greatly saddened by her passing away. We will always remember her.”

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