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Adopted dog from Bethlehem reaches Watertown family by Christmas Day

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Ralph Bova's bakery will be closed through Saturday for the filming of "The Instigators" starring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck.

By Jordyn Jagolinzer

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    WATERTOWN, Massachusetts (WBZ) — A local family received an unforgettable gift from Bethlehem just in time for Christmas. Monika Mukarker and her husband and daughter have waited two months to rescue a dog they found on the street in the West Bank.

“I saw Koki on the street sitting with her three puppies,” said Monika Mukarker of Watertown. She’s lived in the U.S. for five years now but recently traveled back to Palestine to visit family.

On a drive through the city from her sister’s house, she and her husband found something they couldn’t leave behind.

“I just told my husband, stop the car,” said Mukarker.

The couple approached the dog and gave the mom and her puppies food and water.

They went back for several days checking on the strays and bringing more food. In the meantime, they reached out to the only animal shelter in the West Bank, AEA Bethlehem Animal Shelter.

“After three or four days she started recognizing the car and coming to us without us even going out, she knew we were coming to help her,” said Mukarker’s husband Elias Saed.

The family named the dog, “Koki,” and the shelter took her and her pups in. Koki was suffering from severe dehydration. Two of her puppies survived, but one that was badly injured didn’t.

“I felt like Koki deserved a better life, she deserved a home,” said Mukarker.

Monika felt connected to the stray in an inexplicable way. She realized she couldn’t return to Boston without her, she just didn’t know how to get Koki home.

“I said ‘Diana you know what, I’m going to take Koki to Boston, I don’t know how, you have to help me with this.'”

The founder of the shelter in Bethlehem, Diana Babish, turned to Facebook in hopes of finding a volunteer to transport Koki. Monika was unable to take her on her return journey home due to travel restrictions.

“It took not too long, maybe couple of months from the time I saw Diana’s posting,” Helaine Block told WBZ-TV. Block founded the non-profit Kobe Henro in Sudbury. The pet food bank works to feed hungry cats and dogs.

The animal lover saw Diana Babish’s post on Facebook. By chance, her daughter, a graduate student, is studying in Israel and volunteered to transport Koki.

“Her daughter is an angel and she said I can take her,” said a grateful Mukarker.

After finalizing the paperwork, booking the flights, and making sure Koki was up to date with her shots and healthy enough for a flight across the world, the shelter was ready to send the dog on her way.

Mukarker explained the moment she found out that Koki would become part of their family.

“Diana told me Koki’s coming from Bethlehem on the 25th of December, I was like what Christmas Day? What, that’s crazy!”

At 5 a.m. on Christmas morning, Monika and Helaine arrived at Logan International Airport to finally give Koki a home.

A moment two months in the making, the two greeted Helaine’s daughter and reunited Monika and Koki.

“She came out and Monika and I were standing there, waiting for my daughter and Koki, and she said I see her, there she is!” said Block. “A twelve-hour flight is rather taxing and everyone looked tired, but not Koki that dog was dancing.”

Mukarker made a promise to the two-year-old dog when she picked her up. “I promised her when I saw her, Koki no more streets. No more people who are going to hurt you.”

A gift for not just Koki who for the first time has a warm shelter, but to the family who found her– something they are extra grateful for this Christmas.

“I told my husband I don’t want any gifts. Koki is our gift this year,” said Mukarker.

After two years, and a 12-hour flight from Bethlehem, Koki has a family and a home. A real Christmas Day miracle.

To support dogs like Koki or to adopt one from the AEA Bethlehem Shelter, visit their website. For more information on Kobe Henro Food Bank in Sudbury, visit their website.

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