05/04/2011 at 11:00 AM EDT
In her decades-long career as a talk show host, Oprah Winfrey
has interviewed regular people, celebrities, dignitaries and everyone in between. One question she's frequently asked is what they would take with them if their houses were on fire. Oprah's answer to her own question? A photo album of her dogs.
"It's easy to acquire lots of things," she told Nate Berkus on his show. "When you are a person of note or 'celebrity,' people make a big deal about the stuff and the things."
But a simple birthday gift of portraits of her five furballs – golden retrievers Luke and Layla, cocker spaniel Sadie, and springer spaniels Sunny and Lauren –trumps all of Winfrey's other possessions.
Photographer Robin Layton
visited Winfrey's California home one day and had an extended session with the dogs – and even caught Winfrey in a few tender moments with her pups.
"Let me show you the shot that is most me in the world," she told Berkus. "I could cry right now. This is the shot that most represents me and how I feel."
In it, Winfrey is kneeling over her kitchen floor, giving her golden Luke a kiss – and he is kissing her right back. Later in the show, which was an exclusive tour of her home, Winfrey said, "I'm happiest when I'm here with my trees and dogs."
It seems the way to Oprah's heart is through her dogs. Another friend, Jennifer Aniston
, once gave her a gift that she loved very much – a yoga mat
picturing all five pooches!Read more about Oprah and her dogs on PEOPLEPets.com:Oprah Gets Two New Dogs for Her Birthday!Oprah and Dr. Oz Give Their Pets the Best in Health Care