The country artist, who cares for two rescue dogs, has found homes for 25 pups in a little more than a year

Holly Williams loves life on the road, but for the singer-songwriter, nothing beats coming home to her dogs, Oliver, a black Lab, and Alfie, a white Lab. “They totally freak out,” she says. “They get so excited they start peeing all over the stairs.”

But she can’t complain. “With a boyfriend or friend it’s like, ‘Hey, hope you had a good trip,’” she explains. “But dogs are beside themselves, jumping off the walls. It’s neat that someone’s that excited to see you. You don’t get that much in life from humans.” What makes Nashville-based Williams’s relationship with her dogs even more special is that she rescued both of them – plus about 25 others since March 2008.

She came across Alfie when she visited a shelter one day while waiting to eat at a restaurant. “All the other dogs were going crazy, barking, trying to break out of the cage. And he was huddled up in the corner, this beautiful white Lab,” recalls the singer, 28, whose album, Here With Me, is out now. “I took him outside and just thought, ‘Well, what could it hurt? I’ll just try this whole thing.’ And I tried it and fell madly in love with him.”

About six months later, during a trip to see her father, country singer Hank Williams, Jr., in Paris, Tenn., she visited a kill shelter and saved several black Labs who were going to be euthanized. “There were about six or seven puppies. I threw them in the back of my car and just prayed for hope,” says the singer, who bought a massive crate for her home, but had a hard time living with the entire group. “I couldn’t sleep in my apartment at night cause they would all cry and bark.” She then set out to find them homes. “You can’t call someone and say, ‘Do you want a dog?’ cause they all say no,” she says of her placement strategy. Instead, she carries the puppies into salons, her record label offices, “or anywhere I know people.”

Most of her rescuing, however, occurs when she’s in the Tennessee countryside. Williams met Oliver when she spotted a “Free Puppies” sign while driving past a trailer park. He and his five siblings “were infested with fleas and ticks,” she says. “It was horrible. It took hours to clean even one of them.” Once they were healthy, she found them homes. “Some of my friends took his brothers.”

Williams’s goal is to save 50 dogs by the end of 2009, but she admits giving them up isn’t easy: “You get so attached.” Saying goodbye to Ollie and Alfie when she goes on the road is even harder. “I miss them bad,” says Williams, whose pets stay with a dog-sitter or a friend. “I had to leave them a few weeks ago and I was just bawling.”