"I was lucky enough to grow up around animals, so it's been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember," Katherine Schwarzenegger tells PEOPLE.

By Kara Warner
May 21, 2019 11:25 AM

Katherine Schwarzenegger has been an animal lover her whole life.

“I was lucky enough to grow up around animals, so it’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember,” Schwarzenegger, 29, tells PEOPLE.

The author, pet adoption advocate and philanthropist is applying her love of furry friends to her new podcast, “The Dog That Changed Me,” a nine-episode limited series podcast sponsored by Pedigree that shines a light on dog adoption.

“I have vivid memories of our first family dog,” she says. “My sister and I would always take care of the dogs that my parents had before we were even born. We have a ton of memories of our first pets in our lives, and they were huge gifts and such blessings in our lives, that taught us about responsibility at a very young age, and unconditional love.”

Katherine Schwarzenegger

In each episode of the podcast, Schwarzenegger talks with guests and fellow dog lovers about the special canines that have had an impact on their lives. Her guests include: Mandy Moore, Bryce Dallas Howard, Haylie Duff, and Minka Kelly. The latest batch of episodes, released Monday, feature: Julianne Hough, LeAnn Rimes, Judy Fridono — owner of surfing therapy dog Ricochet — and Deb Fair, executive director of the Pedigree Foundation.

A newcomer to the world of podcast hosting, Schwarzenegger reached out to friends and colleagues who she knew had great stories to share about their pooches.

“I reached out to a handful of people in my world already,” she says. “I know a lot of people in the animal rescue world that have had really amazing experiences. They all have such amazing stories about all the dogs that have been in their lives, and what a difference they made in their lives, and how much they’ve taught them about themselves, and also just about life in general.”

Actress and director Bryce Dallas Howard

Schwarzenegger says the new gig was such a joy that it rarely felt like work. She hopes that those who tune in enjoy the heartfelt conversations and that she’s already heard positive feedback from a few listeners who have been inspired to look into dog rescue and adoption.

“They say that [the podcast] inspires them to start fostering, or to go out and rescue a dog for their family, that is what really makes me feel so happy,” she says. “It’s such a rewarding thing. So, I hope people will also have that experience when listening to this podcast.”

Does she have any plans to broaden the series to include other furry friends in the future?

“The focus of this podcast right now is for dog rescue, but again, I’m a huge animal lover, so to be able to take it to animal rescue, and other animals would be really awesome and really fun,” Schwarzenegger says.

“The Dog That Changed Me” is available to stream on major podcast platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Stitcher.