Emmylou Harris began her inspiring journey in animal welfare activism after Bonaparte, her people-friendly poodle mix and 10-year tour companion, died suddenly in 2002.
“He was so easy,” she tells PEOPLE. “He was a great traveler, so good on the bus and with people. I just thought to take him one day and then for the next 10 years he came with me everywhere.”
Impossible to replace, Harris opened her home as a halfway house for pets in 2004. She called it Bonaparte’s Retreat. “We keep up to four dogs, at any one time,” she says of setting the facility up on her just-shy-of-two-acres plot in Nashville, Tennessee. “You know, we want to make sure we only take as many as we can to be sure everyone still gets the royal treatment.”
Harris will be featured this month on the fifth episode of PBS’ Shelter Me: Partners for Life. Hosted by Emmy-winner Jon Hamm, the hour-long special features Nikita, a shelter dog who was rescued in Worcester, Massachusetts, before being adopted and trained for a K-9 unit. Also during the episode, Harris will give a tour of Bonaparte’s Retreat (which includes a beautiful dog run as well as a bunkhouse for escape from bad weather) and speak about her work raising awareness and funding for local Nashville shelters and her Crossroads Pets program, which partners at-risk youth with at-risk rescues.