As a young girl growing up in the ’70s, I remember listening as my mom, having donned huge headphones plugged into her record player, belted out her favourite hits. Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, and John Denver were near constants in the soundtrack of our small but cheery home, all provided with a backdrop of my mom’s endearingly off-key vocals. For me, a girl being raised in a relatively large city, the closest I would get to relating to life in the country was hearing my mom’s squeaky version of “Well I got me a fine wife, I got my old fiddle, the sun’s coming up I got cakes on the griddle, life ain’t nothing but a funny, funny riddle. Thank god, I’m a country boy.” And while she was, admittedly, quite terrible, something about hearing her sing that song made me wish I too were a country boy, or I suppose, a country girl. It would be years before the series Nashville Star introduced viewers to real life country girl Miranda Lambert, the Texan talent. While she would ultimately go on to place third in the first season of the reality show, the experience would help launch a career that has since been punctuated by her fair share of accolades. Her numerous hits have populated the Top 40 Billboard Hot Country Charts and dominated YouTube. Coupled with husband, fellow country star Blake Shelton and judge on the hit series The Voice, hers is a frequently heard name announced on nights ranging from CMT’s Music Awards to the Grammys. But today the two share more than just space for their countless awards and cakes on the griddle, they share their country home with an impressive lot of furry roommates.

MD: While your career today is no doubt on the rise, did you always have aspirations of being a country star?
ML: I never thought of being a country “star.” I hoped I could make a living in some way in the country music world. One of my dreams was to be a back-up singer so if this thing doesn’t work out, that’s another option for me.

What was the experience of being on Nashville Star like for you? How did it ultimately change your life?
Nashville Star was like college for me. I had been on the Texas Music scene for two years, but I had never left home. In fact, the first flight I ever took alone was to Nashville for the show, so it was a safe place to start and it gave me the independence I would need moving forward. It was a nine-week audition process, for better or worse; fortunately for me, it worked out for the better.

As someone who has been singing for the majority of her life, what was it like for you the first time you were driving in your car and one of your songs came on the radio? Can you describe that feeling for those of us who will never experience that?
The first time I heard one of my songs I was on the Texas tour and we were in Waco. The song was “Somebody Else” from my independent album. My dad was driving, my mom was in the passenger seat, and my back-up singer and I were in the back of our family Expedition. The band was in a car behind us. I heard the song and yelled at my mom, “Hey put something on besides my CD.” She said: “That’s not your CD… It’s on the radio!” I called my band and made them switch over to the Waco station!

As a fellow Law and Order SVU fan, what was the experience like for you getting to be on an episode in your acting debut?
It was really exciting for me because I am such a fan of the show and watch SVU marathons all the time. It’s an intense show and they gave me an intense role. I just wanted it to be believable, so I took some acting lessons and am glad I did. I really wanted to take the role seriously and step out of Miranda Lambert and into the character. It was such a different experience from singing.

Was a love for music fostered in your home as a child? How so?
I don’t remember a single day while growing up when music was not being played in my house. My dad is a singer/songwriter and my mom listens to everything from Aretha Franklin to Waylon Jennings…When I was about 12 or 13, my best friend told me that she didn’t have a radio in her house. I couldn’t believe it! That year for Christmas, I got her a clock radio. I guess that’s when I realized that I could never live without music in my life.

Was a love for animals fostered in your home as a child? How so?
Just like music, animals have always been a part of my life. We have never been without pets. I can’t imagine how that would be. Thankfully, I’ll never have to experience that [because I’m] just like my parents, who always had an open door policy; I feel the same way about dogs and animals. If any animal needs a place, [they] can stay here.

What animals do you have in your life today?
I have a lot of animals! Our pets are all mixed breeds. Delta Dawn is a Chihuaua/Pug. She had been living at the Sonic Drive- In for about a week. I brought her home and she was in bad shape and I nursed her back to health. Since I found her right before the ACMs (Academy of Country Music Awards), I brought her with me as I didn’t want to leave her home with friends. She ended up backstage at the show in Vegas and seemed immediately in her element.

We also have Cher, a Chihuahua. I took a friend to a shelter to adopt a dog for his daughter. That’s when I saw a new puppy being brought in that weighed about one pound. She was only four or five weeks old. Someone had heard her crying from a box in a dumpster. After seeing her and hearing the story, I knew immediately she was mine.

Delilah, she’s Terrier mix. She was my first adoptee. She was abandoned in a yard when someone moved. They just left her there with another small dog. Neighbours called and reported it and they took her to the shelter in Tyler, Texas. The other dog was adopted, but Delilah was left behind. My mom and I went to volunteer at that shelter during my radio tour in Texas and they had about 200 dogs there, but neither of us could take our eyes off of this beautiful little Terrier. I guess oftentimes dogs adopt you. She is now retired from the road and lives with my Nonny, where she enjoys a life of luxury.

And we have Betty, a hound. Betty is Blake’s dog in every way. We found her and her sister on the side of the road in Oklahoma around our neighbourhood. She acts just like Blake, as she’s the most mischievous and loving thing in the world. She travels with both of us off and on.

Jessie and Waylon are Golden Retrievers that my mom and I found on the side of the road on a bridge in the rain. It was pouring, and I wasn’t sure what I saw but we stopped and found those two little puppies and took them to the vet immediately. Both of them love living on my farm and they’re fully-grown and very happy dogs.

I also have a flock of chickens, two pot bellied pigs, three minihorses, three horses, and three cats.

What makes each of these fur kids special to you today?
Every animal has a special place in my heart. Especially my dogs—some of them go everywhere with me. They are like my kids, with their own unique personalities.

As your career gets all the more meteoric, how do your animals help keep you grounded?
My animals totally keep me grounded. They don’t know “Miranda Lambert” they know “mom.” The first thing they want is to be fed or go outside. Even if it’s snowing and 10 degrees Fahrenheit [-12 degrees Celsius] outside on tour, I have to get up and walk them. As soon as I get off stage they are waiting to greet me. They love the person I am even if I never sing another note.

With a father who was in law enforcement when you were growing up—and witnessing firsthand the effects of domestic abuse in cases he was involved in—do you believe that impacted your desire to also help not only people in need but animals in need as well?
I come from parents who are rescuers. There has never been a person or an animal in need who we have turned down. I don’t know any other way of life.

In what ways do you hope not only your music, but your life inspires others to live or take action?
I hope that my music and my lifestyle inspire others to take action. If it’s leaving an abusive relationship or taking in someone or something in need, I hope I’m making an impact.

With an ever-growing list of achievements under your belt, what can your fans expect from you next?
My fans can expect more music that is raw and real. And probably more dogs!