What was Andy Cohen’s dream job as a kid? “I think it’s what I’m doing now, which is so crazy!” Andy, 50, exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. The irrepressible host of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, Love Connection, and years of Real Housewives reunions wanted to be on camera long before settling for a behind-the-scenes gig as a Bravo TV exec.

“I had kind of given up on it, but it wound up happening through a series of events that I am thrilled about. It’s wild where it’s gone,” he shared. Andy can be just as wild, but what keeps him grounded (aside from friends like Sarah Jessica Parker and his speaking tour partner, Anderson Cooper) is his rescue beagle, Wacha. “I’m an obsessive dog father!” he quipped. “I love him, and we have a lot of fun together.” Andy also opened up about his doggy rescue work with Purina One, managing all those Housewives, and his greatest life lesson — scroll down to read our exclusive Q&A with Andy!

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Why did you get involved with Purina One’s 28-Day Challenge?

For everyone who joins the Purina One 28-Day Challenge, pledging to try Purina’s food, they’re giving $5 to the Petfinder Foundation, which promotes doggy rescue. I found Wacha on Petfinder’s website, so it’s a great, full-circle thing.

What insights did you gain by writing your 2012 memoir, Most Talkative?

It was very challenging, but I loved it. It made me unsurprised about where I am now as I looked back on my love of soap operas, TV, and wanting to be myself on TV.

Who’s been your favorite interview?

Oprah [Winfrey]. She was amazing and just everything you’d want her to be.

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And your dream interview?

Michelle Obama. She’s inspiring, funny, smart, and she’s lived an amazing life. She has a book coming out [in November], so hopefully it’ll happen.

Ever get too tipsy with the open bar?

I used to, but I haven’t been drinking that much on the show this year, actually.

Do you have a most embarrassing moment on your show?

I passed gas in front of a guest right as we were about to go on the air. And it was someone I had never met before. It was bad.

If it makes you feel better, the Real Housewives have had worse moments. Do you get calls from them after-hours?

All the time — one of the hazards of my job. Five text me a day, and it’s different every day.

Who’s your favorite? Top three?

Are you crazy? I work with these women!

Most likely to fight at a reunion?

Tamra [Judge of Orange County].

Who’s the most phony on camera?

They’re all pretty much the same off and on.

Do you have a big Housewives regret?

Camille [Grammer] was so burned by how outspoken she was in Season 1. I regret that it took her a long time to regain her confidence in front of the camera.

Have any proud moments?

I set up Porsha [Williams] from Atlanta, and she’s still with him!

Ever crush on a husband?

Apollo [Nida] was a fox! And I shamelessly flirted with Ricky Martin the first time he was on [Watch What Happens Live]. It was embarrassing.

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Now you’re a big celebrity.

The cons: Everyone has an opinion about you. The pros are making people laugh every night!

You’re also a role model, and you’ve talked about leaving a coming-out letter for your parents. Was that tough?

It was, and it’s still difficult for millions of people, but it was freeing and life-affirming.

What’s the secret to your friendship with Anderson Cooper?

We met around 25 years ago. He’s really loyal, and I love to make him laugh.

And what’s up next for you?

I’m building Andy Cohen Books, [an imprint] at Henry Holt, publishing other people’s work. I love hosting Love Connection, and Radio Andy has been going three years on Sirius.

You just turned 50 — congrats! Are there any benefits to this stage of your life?

Comfort and peace of mind in where I am.

Pick one word to describe yourself.

Happy! It’s my resting mood.

For more on your favorite stars, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive news!