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James Kennedy on Missing His Dog with Ex Rachel Leviss: 'He Was the Missing Puzzle Piece' (Exclusive)

"There is no word to really explain how much I missed him and love him," Kennedy told PEOPLE at Wednesday's 'Vanderpump Rules' season 11 premiere event

<p>James Kennedy/instagram; getty</p> James Kennedy (L), Rachel Leviss (R)

James Kennedy/instagram; getty

James Kennedy (L), Rachel Leviss (R)

James Kennedy's life wouldn't be complete without his goldendoodle, Hippie!

The pup was reunited with the reality television star in July 2023 after staying with his ex-girlfriend Rachel "Raquel" Leviss following their split, which was announced in December 2021.

"There is no word to really explain how much I missed him and love him," he told PEOPLE exclusively at Wednesday's Vanderpump Rules season 11 premiere event. "Like he really is just like my best friend and he was the missing puzzle piece."

<p>Rodin Eckenroth/Getty</p> James Kennedy and Raquel Levis at the 5th Annual World Dog Day at West Hollywood Park on August 07, 2021

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty

James Kennedy and Raquel Levis at the 5th Annual World Dog Day at West Hollywood Park on August 07, 2021

Related: Tom Schwartz Says He Has Found a 'Great Balance' Co-Parenting Dogs with Ex Katie Maloney (Exclusive)

Kennedy and Leviss adopted the dog in 2018 and named him Graham Cracker. After their May 2021 engagement was called off, he was looked over by Leviss' parents until Leviss took over care of him.

The British DJ spoke out about him in April 2023 during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, stating, "I've left Graham in the past now. Beautiful times, but he's gone, and that's just what it is."

Although Kennedy never shared why Leviss returned the dog to him, he told PEOPLE that changing his name was necessary to help let go of the past.

Related: James Kennedy Says It Would 'Suck' to End Friendship with Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz 'Over a Silly Mistake' (Exclusive)

"When I say Graham Cracker, it just doesn't even feel; it feels like a thing of the past already. It doesn't feel right, and it brings back, like, just like old memories that [I] don't really need to be reminded of every single day. Right? Like that was the first time I thought about it today," he told PEOPLE.

The television personality said that the dog responds to his new name "very well" and that it was "pretty easy."

"The new house, the new garden, the new rules, and the new, you know, environment with the name change right off the bat was actually an easier change than one would think," he told PEOPLE.

<p>River Callaway/Variety via Getty</p> James Kennedy and Ally Lewber

River Callaway/Variety via Getty

James Kennedy and Ally Lewber

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Kennedy attended Wednesday's event with his girlfriend, Ally Lewber, whom he first stepped out with at the 2022 iHeart Radio Music Awards. Lewber joined the cast as Kennedy's girlfriend in season 10 and moved in with him in June 2023.

"We make a good team, we remind each other every day," Kennedy told PEOPLE of living with Lewber. "I love it," she added. "He cooks, he's super clean. We're clean in different ways, which I think is really good. I'm like organized, and he is clean, clean."

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