updated 06/01/2011 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/01/2011 AT 2:00 PM ET
Dina Manzo, former castmate on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, is known for her huge heart. So it was little surprise that seven months ago, when the reality star set her eyes upon a 6-week-old Chihuahua with no front legs, the pup instantly found a forever home.
“I was going to foster her, but I fell in love with her the minute I saw her,” Manzo tells PEOPLE Pets at Project Ladybug’s Ladies Night Out event she hosted May 25 to benefit children with cancer. “She’s a licker. She licks everyone’s face.”
The 2-lb. pup, named Gracie, once lived at a Pennsylvania puppy mill, and was recently rescued by a group called Faith’s Hope.
“I relate to [the founder of Faith’s Hope] because she helps these severely handicapped animals and helps them get placed,” says Manzo. “She found me Gracie knowing I would take in any animal who needs a home.”
The resilient pooch, who joins Manzo’s two cats Grandma Wrinkles and Ladybug, doesn’t let her handicap slow her down. She just received a small wheelchair from Eddie’s Wheels, a Massachusetts-based maker of wheelchairs for dogs, cats, goats, and even bunnies. With her new set of wheels, she scoots around and accompanies her master as she shoots episodes for her new HGTV series, Dina’s Party, which follows Manzo’s event planning exploits. Says Manzo: “She’s doing great.”