Courtesy Casey James, inset: Nino Munoz/PictureGroup
06/07/2010 at 01:15 PM EDT
As excited as American Idol
third-place finisher Casey James is to start the Idol Live! Tour
in July, he's more excited about the next time he can say hello to his pooches, Daisy Mae James and Buster Douglas James. But how he came to have his beloved basset hounds is a tale of puppy love, lost and found.
"I started with a Rottweiler, black Lab mix," James, 27, says, "and my best friend loved her so much that I let him keep her for a week when I was going to be at this apartment where I couldn't keep her, so she lived with him and he loved her so much he wouldn't give her back!"
Then James went on the road with his ex-wife, Kellie, when they fell in love with "big basset hound puppies," he says, "and that's when I got Daisy." (above, left)
Looking for a companion for his new pup, "my ex wanted a dachshund," James explains, "and I spent big money on this really nice one. I named him Roscoe, and he was an awesome dog, super sweet, and they got along, so perfect. They ran around, he would chase Daisy, and it was awesome."
But within one week, James heard about another dog, "one that was getting abused and they said he was sick," James says. "I went and saw him and he was so cute but I just couldn't afford three dogs."
That's when fate stepped in. The next day, James' really good friends, who always had been dachshund-lovers, sadly had to say goodbye to their beloved dachshund.
"They treated their dogs like royalty," James recalls. "So I thought, 'well, Roscoe loved it over there,' so I took him over there and said, 'I want you guys to have him,' and it totally made their day, and so I took Buster in."
Buster, however, need a lot of TLC to get him healthy again. "He was so sick," James says, "I spent a $1,000 to fix him. The vet let me pay it out, but he had so many things. He had a stomach infection, an eye infection, an ear infection, three different kinds of worms, but I fixed him up and kept him and he's been like the sweetest dog ever."
Now, as James hits the road with the rest of the top 10 for the American Idol Live! Tour
, which starts July 1 in Auburn Hills, Mich., he'll have his iPhone photo book to comfort him. Admits James, "I got so many pictures of them!" See more American Idol stars on PEOPLEPets.com:American Idol's Paige Miles Loves Singing and Rescuing Dogs!VIDEO: The Second Love of Kara DioGuardi's Life? Her Pooch Tiki