Tiffany the dog; Inset: Joey Lawrence
Courtesy Joey Lawrence; Inset: Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage
10/05/2011 at 03:00 PM EDT
Joey Lawrence doesn't mind shelling out a small fortune to own a little Tiffany.
Filming a movie in Australia, the Melissa & Joey star stopped by a local shelter and spotted a true jewel: a female black Labrador-Australian heeler mix.
"She was just the most amazing little thing ever," he told PEOPLE at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards presented by Cesar Canine Cuisine.
"We had to bring her home. It cost me, like, $1,000 to get her into the country, but it was worth it. She's just an amazing animal."
The dog, later named Tiffany, got her moniker from one of Lawrence's movie locations, a boat with the same name. When shooting wrapped, it was time to pay up – and deal with some red tape.
"You know how the regulations work here," he said. "We had to ship her in and she had to go to a special hangar at LAX."
Once at her new home, Tiffany got a new best friend in Lawrence's other dog, a golden retriever named Dakota. And despite her high price, Tiffany turned out to be very low maintenance.
"Balls. They love their tennis balls," Lawrence said of his dogs' favorite toys. "Don't waste your money on all the trinkets or the $50 case of balls. They gnaw, they rip off all the stuff, getting them down to just the rubber."