The Munsterer Minute is a twice-monthly Q and A featuring celebrities of the Upper Valley. Join the fun as Becky Munsterer, local blogger at NovelNibble.com, interviews folks you might just recognize! To nominate a local celebrity, email email@example.com.
Local columnist, Becky Munsterer of Norwich, talks about rescue dogs and animal crackers with Ayeshah Al-Humaidhi, the new Executive Director of the Upper Valley Humane Society in Enfield, New Hampshire.
The Upper Valley is thrilled to welcome you as the new Executive Director of the UVHS! What brought you to this position?
I am half American and half Kuwaiti. My whole life I have somewhat divided my time between my mother’s New England and my father’s Kuwait. For the last ten years, my husband and I have been building and developing an animal welfare organization in Kuwait. You can learn more about the Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat via www.kspath.org. After a lot of hard work, many struggles, and much success, we decided it was time to move on, leaving K’S PATH in very capable hands. We have been spending our summers in the Upper Valley for the last ten years, and I volunteered at UVHS as far back as 2007. When the Executive Director position came open, it felt like a natural step.
We understand that you used to live in the Upper Valley. What’s your favorite thing about this area?
So many wonderful things come to mind. My short list would have to be summer and all the great things that season brings with it, like swimming, hiking, farm stands, and sunshine. More importantly though, I love the sense of community that exists throughout the Valley in each village and town but that even transcends those smaller boundaries and gives us an important and unparalleled sense of Upper Valley unity.
Do you have pets of your own? If so, tell us a little about them.
My family and I have four dogs and one cat. Scooby was a street rescue dog from Kuwait and Chewbacca was surrendered there. Attis is an English Pointer and was the first dog we ever trapped in Kuwait. My husband used him as a working dog for many years, using his incredible instincts to find wildlife and conduct feral dog surveys in Kuwait. He is happily retired. Cala is a very rare Peruvian Inca Orchid I adopted from a shelter in California. She is the most intelligent and difficult dog I have ever known, and we all love her dearly. Unfortunately, she has advanced liver cancer and will not be with us much longer. Last but not least is Ginger, a feral street cat from Kuwait that entered our lives during a complicated operation to save some animals trapped in an abandoned pet store. He was found helping himself to our bag of dog food and has been with us ever since.
Any advice for people looking to adopt pets?
Buy stock in a lint roller company, you will be buying lots of them. You will also be spending hours researching hacks on how to make your laundry come out of the dryer fur free, at least I do!
Can you tell us a favorite animal adoption story?
Back in 2005, I had just started an organization that was then known as the Animal Friends League of Kuwait. I had broken ground on the shelter building and was already helping out desperate animals by paying for boarding or housing them in my parent's home. Then one day I got a phone call from a man whom I had met briefly a few months before through a friend of a friend. He told me he had been working on Al Jaber Air Base in the western desert of Kuwait and that he had been secretly housing and caring for 18 dogs, mostly puppies, in an abandoned warehouse on the base. I was touched by this man's story, so I spent the first day building a fence around an old abandoned building next to the shelter construction site. On the second day, we moved a big group of the now several month old puppies to the fenced in area and the rest moved onto the roof of my parent's house. One of those dogs, the mother of 11 puppies and the foster mother to 5 more, was a dog named Jazzy. She was, and is, what we consider a very typical tan colored Kuwaiti desert dog: smart, agile, and highly adaptive. Well, I eventually married that man who was willing to risk everything to save a bunch of street dogs, and Jazzy now lives in very contented retirement in East Thetford, Vermont.
The Cat in the Hat, the book. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
We love The Cat in the Hat in my house, and not just because Dr. Seuss was a local. It’s a great reminder of how precocious cats can be and that there’s no limit to how much fun kids can have as long as mom doesn’t see the mess!
Animal crackers, the food. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Animal Crackers get a thumbs up for taste and novelty, but a thumbs down for promoting circus animals. There are much kinder ways for us to be entertained and much more appropriate ways to enjoy wildlife.
Can you describe yourself in a paragraph?
I’ve been very international my whole life. As such I have traveled many places and seen the best and the worst the world has to offer. With all that experience in mind, I’m confident in saying that the Upper Valley is one of the best places to raise children I’ve ever been to and is without a doubt one of the greatest places to live life to the fullest. So I guess you could say I’m a mother, wife, and animal advocate living life to the fullest in one of the greatest places on earth and trying to make that place as wonderful for animals as it is for people.
What are you most looking forward to at UVHS?
UVHS is a very exciting change for me. I love working with new people, I thrive facing new challenges, and I’m committed to helping animals wherever I am. UVHS has a long history of service in the Upper Valley, and I am very much looking forward to helping this organization be the best it possibly can be.
To learn more about the Upper Valley Humane Society, visit http://www.uvhs.org/