11/20/2008 at 12:00 AM EST
After four seasons, two mirror-ball trophies and plenty of bragging rights, Julianne Hough has announced that she's hanging up her Dancing
shoes--at least for a while.
"I'm not gonna be back next season," the Dancing
pro told Ryan Seacrest
Thursday. "I really, really want to focus on the music and, ya know, be taken seriously a little bit. And I think it's hard to be on Dancing
and be singing."
The news comes two days after Hough, 20, who just released a Christmas album
at Target stores, and her season seven partner Cody Linley
on Tuesday night's show.
The Hannah Montana
star "kinda had an idea that we were gonna go home," Hough added. "He was just emotional."
It's been a roller-coaster of emotions for Hough as well, who underwent appendectomy surgery
in October and was nursed back to health by boyfriend of five months
, country crooner Chuck Wicks. When asked by Seacrest, "Are you in love," Hough said, "Yeah, I am" and giggled.
"We met at the Brad Paisley tour in January," she said. "The whole crew, Brad, everybody was trying to get us together. But we were hanging out before that!"
Another sign that things are getting serious? "Chuck and I have a little puppy," she said of Lexi, the couple's Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. "I have pictures all over my phone. She's adorable." -- Beth Perry