July 25, 2011 01:00 PM

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but in the case of actress Beau Garrett, they can also serve as successful matchmakers.

“I saw his dog and I fell in love with [it],” she told PEOPLE of boyfriend Chris Payne Gilbert at a San Fernando, Calif., charity event for Carter’s Kids Environmental Media Association. “He was watering his plants and I didn’t see him; I saw his dog. And then I saw this gorgeous man with his shirt off, so it was like a double whammy.”

Four months later, the couple has settled into home life with Tater Tot and Garrett’s rescue dog Kona.

“I fostered her,” the actress said of Kona, who was 6 months old when she was adopted. “She was abused pretty badly. She just latched onto me and I felt really bad letting her go; I was so in love with her.”

In the years since the adoption, Kona, who goes by the nickname Lulu, has “mellowed out,” said Garrett. “She’s so responsive to me and very well behaved.”

While Kona can occasionally be naughty – “She howls at every siren,” admitted the starlet – she’s settling in nicely with her new playmate.

“They’re very cute,” Garrett said of Kona and Tater Tot. “They’re both 8 years old and they get along really well.”

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