Cheryl Burke Says ‘Amazing’ Dog Ysabella ‘Has Been My Rock’ After Winning Custody in Divorce (Exclusive)

Cheryl Burke is grateful for her furry friend.

The Dancing with the Stars alum, 39, recently launched the podcast Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans. While discussing the new project — which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the celebrity dance competition — with PEOPLE, Burke took time to gush about how her dog Ysabella has supported her since her divorce from Matthew Lawrence.

“Oh, my gosh, I just love her,” Burke tells PEOPLE exclusively about her beloved French bulldog. “Honestly, I don’t know what I would do. Obviously, our time, every single person and animal’s time here on this planet is not necessarily forever. Nothing’s forever. But my dog has been my rock.”

Cheryl Burke attends the United Ukrainian Ballet performance of Giselle at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts on June 29, 2023 in Costa Mesa, California.
Cheryl Burke attends the United Ukrainian Ballet performance of “Giselle” at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts on June 29, 2023 in Costa Mesa, California.CORINE SOLBERG/GETTY

Burke says that Ysabella “literally thinks I’m a dog” and “I might have to get another one, but I am hesitant to do that at the moment, as I just moved, and I’m trying to get my bearings as well.”

“But she’s amazing. Dogs are so intuitive. We could be like that, too, if we just took away the constant thoughts that are like our brain,” she added, noting that communicating with Ysabella requires “no words are needed, other than a few barks.”

In January, Burke revealed that she was awarded full custody of Ysabella following her divorce from Lawrence, 42, posting a photo of her pup on Instagram to celebrate the news.

Cheryl Burke Says Amazing Dog Ysabella Has Been My Rock After Winning Custody in Divorce
Cheryl Burke and her dog, Ysabella.CHERYL BURKE/INSTAGRAM

“Officially a FULL TIME dog mom… 2023, we’re off to a great start!” Burke wrote alongside a picture of herself holding Ysabella at sunset near the ocean.

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Burke and Lawrence separated in early 2022 after three years of marriage. The divorce was finalized that September, but the former couple got caught up in a legal dispute over the custody of Ysabella.

That October, the dancer became emotional during an interview with Entertainment Tonight about the custody battle. “Oh, I’m gonna cry,” she told the outlet. “It’s just really sad, you know.”

“It sucks because, for me, it’s just cruel,” she added. “She’s my dog, and it was a gift from my ex, and I hope that this soon, you know, dies down, and he calls it off. Because you’re taking, like, my daughter away from me.”

Before resolving the custody battle over Ysbella, Burke shared how the French bulldog helped her maintain her sobriety.

“The belief in a power greater than myself consistently helps me to stay the course when things get hard, and I have to give credit to my dog, Ysabella, for keeping me going a lot of the time,” she wrote on Instagram in October 2022. “Going through a public divorce, there have been days where I wanted to just stay in bed and hide, and the idea of numbing my emotions with a vodka soda can sound pretty appealing. But Ysabella has tons of energy and gets me outside to go for walks multiple times a day. She loves me to play with her, and I honestly can’t imagine life without her by my side 24/7.”

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