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Natalie's 'best friend' spills her secrets -- on pet adoption

No one knows your secrets like your best friend — but Natalie Morales' is spilling hers, on TODAY!

In the third installment of the anchors' #TODAYTakesAction series, Natalie teamed up with her best friend, her dog Zara, to create a public service announcement promoting the importance of adopting shelter pets. To show off their special relationship, they made this PSA, in partnership with Maddie's Fund and The Humane Society of the United States, in which Zara (voiced by surprise star Jenna Elfman) dishes all the "dirt" she knows about Natalie, like the fact that she's not a morning person and that she uses the "five-second rule" to eat food off the floor.

Shelter pet adoption is a cause particularly close to Natalie's heart because it's how she found Zara in the first place. Two years ago, Zara was a guest on the show, where Natalie fell in love at first sight and took her home.

"The biggest surprise in adopting Zara has been to realize how much was missing in our lives," Natalie told TODAY.com. "With two beautiful and sweet boys who fill our every moment with joy and yes, chaos, I didn't think we were incomplete. But because Zara is such a member of our family now and she is such a great fit, I see now that she was missing."

Zara has great comedic timing in the PSA, and in real life, too. "She has such cute expressions, the way she tilts her head and bends her ears, and she looks at you with such a brightness in her eyes," Natalie said. "She always makes us laugh, especially the kids, who love to play all kinds of games with her."

Natalie said Zara's impact has been huge. "How has she not changed our lives?" she said. "My boys wake up calling for her. She is my shadow and follows me everywhere. She is my little buddy. She plays with the kids and even lets them use her as a pillow. She is sweet and patient and truly a best friend. Zara has enriched our lives in every way, and she, in turn, seems to have a permanent smile on her face."

For those looking to adopt a pet, here are Natalie's tips: "I would say be sure and do your research," she said. "Know what kind of dogs would work for you and your family and to be willing to work with the dog."

Zara, for example, was a year-and-a-half old and came to Natalie's house without any potty training — or any training, for that matter. "I got a dog trainer and worked with her for a few months," Natalie said. "Now, she wows everyone, including the professional commercial dog trainer on the PSA shoot. He said Zara has potential to be a commercial dog if we want that, but I of course don't want her to turn into a doggie diva!"

Natalie hopes her message helps spread the word about the joys of shelter pet adoption. "I hope after people watch this they're inspired like I was," she said, "to find a new love, a new member of their family."

Want a Zara of your own? Check out The Shelter Pet Project, where you'll find more information, and all the steps to take before adopting an animal.

TODAY Takes Action's public service announcements were created in conjunction with the Ad Council.

More from TODAY:
Matt Lauer plays hide-and-seek to promote hands-on fatherhood 

Al Roker reveals 3 steps to weathering a disaster

Natalie's family welcomes their newest addition: Zara the dog!