Next year, Epiphone and country superstar Miranda Lambert's MuttNation are teaming up to bring awareness to rescue animals and shelters around the U.S. Epiphone has donated Limited Edition DR-100s for the cause, too. Lambert spoke to during rehearsals for her upcoming tour, Livin' Like Hippies, which will kick off in early 2018. 

What inspired you to start MuttNation? 
ML: I grew up on a farm in Lindale, Texas and we always had a lot of animals. People would just drop their dogs on the side of the road so we ended up with a lot of strays. As a teenager, I volunteered at a local shelter, which is where I met my first rescue dog Delilah. Seeing how many dogs needed homes while spending time at the shelter inspired me and my mom Bev to start MuttNation Foundation. We both have a lot of passion to help animals.

How is MuttNation organized and how are you involved? 
We have a Board of Directors that consists of four people at this time, including myself. We also have an Executive Director, Nina Miller, and she makes sure everything is kept on track. My favorite thing is matching a dog with their new owner--nothing is as gratifying as that. 

When you started Mutt Nation, were you surprised that it became such a passion for you? In other words, have you always sought passions outside of music or was there a moment when you said: "Wait a second--stop the presses! MuttNation has now moved to the front burner!” 
I truly believe my love for animals was born in me. When it comes to dogs specifically, I just have this strong connection to them. There are so many animals that don’t get that chance at having a great life from the start. MuttNation Foundation works hard at giving them an opportunity to find a forever home. 

Is it helpful for your creative side to be involved in an effort that is not directly related to writing and performing music? 
It's always good to have an outlet that is not technically tied to your work, something that takes you away from your job.  But more than that, MuttNation lets me give the voiceless a voice, plus it feeds both my passions. 

You're kicking off a 24-date ARENA tour--Livin' Like Hippies--in January.  Tell me about the show--what you're most excited about--either in what you're playing or how the show is being organized.
I am very excited to play for my fans and on this round we get to go to some cities that I haven’t played in a while, which means that they haven’t heard much of my latest release, Weight of These Wings, live yet.  We usually work up a few covers as well, but nothing has been decided yet. We always play most of the hits, as I love it when the audience sings along!

How will you be telling your fans about MuttNation during the tour?
I love giving back locally, so we will team up with local shelters in each city on the tour and hold a donation drive called “Fill the Little Red Wagon” at the venue on the evening of my show.  The feedback from the shelters has been great and it enables them to collect a lot of stuff that they need.  The other thing I am excited about is a new initiative we started called “MuttNation Citizens.” It’s a great way for dog lovers to be part of MuttNation. Their donation of $25 makes them a citizen with benefits and they become a part of our community of dog lovers.  

Tell me about the artwork for the Epiphone DR-100s?
I love the heart shape paw print.  That logo was designed by good friends of mine, The Junk Gypsies, when we first started MuttNation Foundation and it has been a great way to identify all our projects relating to MuttNation. 
What are some of the challenges that you've encountered with MuttNation that you didn't expect? For instance, there has been a considerable amount of weather disasters and challenges in many parts of the country.
Weather is unpredictable and it's tough as most of the times when we deal with natural disasters animals are almost always affected.  The MuttNation team works with other organizations to assist with rescue missions wherever we can. The need during Hurricane Harvey was to help relocate dogs that had been in shelters before the storm hit, so lost or displaced animals would be able to be housed in those shelters in the affected areas. The hope was that their owners could easily find them after the waters receded, if they could be kept local. Seeing a dog and its owner reunited is very gratifying and of course we were able to find a lot of new homes for the pups.