The Extra host teams with PEOPLE Pets to find a pooch he can “come home to”

By Amy Jamieson
Updated January 07, 2010 04:15 PM

Listen up, ladies (and dogs)! Mario Lopez is putting the word out that he’s ready for a commitment – with a furry little friend, that is!

This week the Extra host has launched his search for a puppy, and, over the next five months, with the help of celebrities, pet experts, animal shelters and an official partner – yours truly, – Lopez will find a fluffy companion to call his own. “Somebody I can come home to. Somebody I can go running with and travel with me,” he says. “A buddy.”

Lopez, 35, knows that getting a dog means his busy life will change dramatically. “I’ve been wanting to get a dog for a long time,” the former Saved by the Bell star tells PEOPLE Pets. “I know it’s a big decision. It’s like adopting a child, but I want to do it. I want to prove that I’m grown up and that I can handle responsibility. I barely can take care of myself, I don’t even have real plants in my house – so this is a big jump.”

Even though the TV host, who was named PEOPLE magazine’s Hottest Bachelor in 2008, grew up with dogs and a guinea pig, he admits that he still has a lot to learn about caring for a pet. “There’s always stuff to learn,” he says, adding that he’s open to any breed but would prefer an active, medium-sized pooch.

In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey for Extra, she suggested that he get a French bulldog, and he says he’s quite fond of the breed. “I like everything from like a French bulldog to a cool cross mix, like boxer-Lab. Or something like that – just all over the place,” he says. “I’d like to rescue a dog. Mutts are kind of cool.”

The thing he’s looking forward to most as a dog owner? “Companionship,” he says. But he hopes his in-depth search for a pooch will also shine a light on a very important message: “At the same time I want to bring awareness to [homeless] dogs, to help with rescue.”

So, does he think the pooch will help him land a lady? “I mean, that’s not my purpose for wanting to get one. Maybe it’ll show that I’m responsible and I can definitely make time for priorities and I’m good at balancing work and other priorities,” he says. “So it’ll add as a positive quality to my life.”

Stay tuned to and Extra for more news about Mario’s puppy search!