Simon Cowell Feels Puppy Love for Paula Abdul

updated 08/05/2011 AT 7:00 PM ET

originally published 08/06/2011 AT 2:30 PM ET

Is Paula Abdul a man’s best friend?

She is if that man is Simon Cowell, who explains why they’ll be resuming their former American Idol positions at the judges’ table on his upcoming show, The X Factor.

“It’s like owning a dog and the dog will only sit next to its master,” Cowell, 51, tells PEOPLE. “It’s comfortable. If she’s away from me, she pines. She’s unhappy. She has to sit next to me.”

Their close bond has given Cowell a chance to see many sides of Abdul, 49, and, fortunately, he appreciates her personality.

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