Hannah Montana's Mitchel Musso Has One Lovable 'Beast'

05/04/2009 at 07:45 AM EDT

Hannah Montana's Mitchel Musso Has One Lovable 'Beast'
Courtesy of Mitchel Musso/Disney Channel
Mitchel Musso spends his days earning laughs as Miley Cyrus's loyal sidekick on Hannah Montana. But off screen, the 17-year-old is a normal teen – and "dad" to a very big dog! The singer/actor recently spoke to PEOPLE Pets about his loveable 125-lb. "beast," Stitch, and offered tips for taking care of your pets.

Tell us about your pet!
I have a 125-lb. yellow Lab named Stitch. I figured, "Mitch" and "Stitch." His birthday is July 14 and mine's July 9, so we have close birthdays. He just turned 7.

My mom wanted her own dog, so she went out and got a white Maltese and named Molly. Molly and Stitch get along well, for some crazy reason. Molly is so little – maybe 2 lbs. – so there's big difference there.

How did you get Stitch?
We got him as a family, but technically I got him on my 11th birthday. He is the house dog – he's everyone's dog. But when it comes down to it, I call him "my" dog. I take care of him, walk him and feed him. He eats everything! If I were to bring In-N-Out Burger or Wendy's home, it'll be torn through in a matter of minutes – all the food, all the wrappers. He's a beast! If you leave food on the counter, it'll be gone so fast. But it's awesome. He's the best dog, and just so nice.

Does Stitch come to the Hannah Montana set with you?
Stitch comes to the set sometimes, hangs out and runs around outside, then comes and chills in the dressing room. He's so big though, so he'd rather be at home. Everyone on set loves him. He's definitely part of the family.

Does he have puppy playdates with other cast members' dogs?
Not really. He had a neighbor for the longest time – a chocolate Lab named Dixie – and they were good friends, but the family moved. There are still dogs in the neighborhood that he hangs with, but he's usually chilling by himself, or sometimes with Molly.

Being a young actor, how is it having a dog?
If you do balance your schedule right, it works out. I love my dog, I love him always being there. I'm always around him when I'm not working.

Do you have any advice for kids hoping to get a pet?
It's definitely a way to build responsibility. I think pets are a good thing, especially if you get them out of a shelter. My tip to kids would be, if you get a dog, you need to go to PetCo. Stitch loves going there so much! Like, I love going to Target because they have everything, and Stitch loves going to PetCo because they have his everything. He grabs stuff off the shelves and plays with it in the aisles. So if you have a dog, cat, whatever, bring him or her to PetCo. That is their store!

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