Janet Gough/Celebrity Photo
06/18/2008 at 12:00 PM EDT
Tori Spelling's beloved dog Mimi LaRue died Tuesday of natural causes at the age of 11, the actress tells PEOPLE.
"She was a star and a true lady, and she will be missed greatly," says Spelling. "People everywhere knew her by name. I loved when fans wanted her over me. I felt proud!"
Mimi LaRue died at home surrounded by her family, including Spelling's husband Dean McDermott, 41, son Liam, 1, and newborn daughter Stella, 10 days old. "I'm devastated," said Spelling, who reveals her dog had suffered from medical problems relating to her hips and neck for years. "I'm convinced she waited around to make sure I had the daughter I always dreamt about before she left us."
Mimi LaRue was a frequent sight in her trademark pink dresses, both on the red carpet as well as on Spelling's reality shows, So noTORIous, Tori & Dean: Inn Love, and the new season of Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.
"She was not just a dog but a fashion icon and legend amongst Hollywood dogs," Spelling says. "She received fan e-mail on a regular basis, and I often joked she got sent more designer clothes than me!"
Aside from being fashionably hip, Mimi LaRue was a true member of the family, rarely giving up a chance for a fine meal or simply relaxing in Spelling's lap. "She was a loving pet and a true diva to the end," says Spelling.