The Due Date star fell in love with his canine castmate and road-trip buddy

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Proof that Robert Downey Jr. is an actor worth his salt: Despite having fallen in love with Sunny, the 15-lb. French bulldog who co-stars with him in the new movie Due Date, Downey had to play the part of a man who hates the dog –and at one point even spits in the pup’s face.

“It was really funny when Robert had to say he didn’t like her, because he really loved her,” Mark Harden, Sunny’s trainer, tells PEOPLEPets.com. “In between takes, he would put her in his lap and sit with her.”

Downey doesn’t have a dog, but – thanks to Sunny – he suddenly decided he might like to have one. He asked about adopting the now 2-year-old pooch, but her breeder insisted on getting Sunny back.

“To his credit, even though he could afford it, he didn’t try to name a price [for the dog],” Harden says. “He said that maybe when he was more settled he would give me a call to see about finding him another dog.”

Downey’s attachment to Sunny, who plays a male dog named Sonny in the film, is unusual on a Hollywood set, where groups of animals are usually handled by a number of trainers and interactions with human actors are strictly professional. The bond between them formed because of the unique nature of Sunny’s part, which required her to travel with the cast and crew throughout the road-trip movie.

Downey and his human co-star, Zach Galifianakis, always had treats for Sunny, and Galifianakis, whose character is Sonny’s owner, was constantly carrying the French bulldog in a bag, or toting her around in his arms.

The actors’ first scene with the dog was at a Waffle House in Georgia, where Sunny sat at the table in a booster seat. “She got to eat bacon and eggs all day, being fed by Zach, so that was pretty good bonding for her,” Harden says.

Sunny, who was 18 months old during when filming began, turned out to be a “great traveler,” according to Harden. The pooch was pretty fearless, Harden says. During shooting for a scene at the Grand Canyon, Sunny wasn’t awestruck, but instead ventured close enough to the edge that Harden got worried. She was in her element whether she was riding on a bus or in a plane, and she loved being able to sprint down the hallways of the different hotels where she stayed.

“She loved everybody,” Harden says. “Every day on set, you could just tell that she brightened up the crew’s mood. She loved being there.”

Due Date opens this Friday in theaters nationwide.