updated 06/18/2013 AT 4:35 PM ET
•originally published 06/18/2013 AT 6:25 PM ET
The recently single father of two – son Joshua is 11 and daughter Taylor is 9 – tells PEOPLE that his 2-year-old Havanese is the perfect partner.
“Baxter is the love of our life,” says Harrison, who also hosts The Bachelor. “I was never a small-dog person, but I am now.”
Much like Desiree Hartsock’s current search for love on the reality show, though, finding the perfect pooch was quite difficult for Harrison, since son Joshua suffers from severe allergies.
“He went through shots so he could have a dog – that’s how determined he was to get one,” says Harrison. “I told him, ‘If you get your allergy shots, you can do this.’ He went through all the pain.”
On the journey to find a hypoallergenic dog that his son could be around, big-dog lover Harrison discovered that he could in fact open his heart to the Havanese, a tiny breed that originated in Cuba. However, his little guy’s personality is anything but small.
“I will say that he’s a small dog that plays like a big dog,” Harrison adds. “It’s a tough, small dog.”