07/19/2010 at 08:57 PM EDT
Broadway heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson
used to be just another "self-obsessed actor." With his sky-blue eyes and a chiseled jaw, it's easy to see why.
"I was always wondering, 'What do I look like? What do I think of me?' " he told PEOPLEPets.com at Broadway Barks last week.
That all changed when he adopted a Rottweiler-mix puppy (not pictured) from the ASPCA seven years ago. The dog had been found tied to a fence in New York City. When Jackson saw her at the shelter, she was labeled as "3-month-old, no name." It was his first foray into adoption, and since then, Jackson has been a visible advocate for animal rescue.
"Her name is Zora, named after Zora Neale Hurston," Jackson says, "because she's a strong black girl from Harlem."
Zora has become what Jackson calls his "hairy daughter," and usually follows him to work everyday, whether it's to the set of 30 Rock, where he guest stars as Danny Baker, or to the Broadway stage, where until earlier this year, Jackson starred in Finian's Rainbow
"She comes to every show," Jackson said. "She hangs out in the dressing room and hears my voice on the monitor. She's like therapy."
Jackson and his partner are so devoted to Zora that even though the 106-lb. Rottie isn't allowed to sleep on their bed, they make sure she gets plenty of enrichment. The city-dwellers wanted her to have a taste of the water, so they put her into doggie swimming classes in their Chelsea neighborhood. Some of their friends thought it was crazy, "but other dog people got it."
"She's really touched my life," Jackson said. "I think having a dog makes you more compassionate."Read more about celebrities and their furry loved ones on PEOPLEPets.com:VIDEO: Shorty Rossi Promises 'More Excitement' in New 'Pit Boss' EpisodesCatherine Zeta-Jones's Dog Gets Special Treatment on Broadway