Duane "Dog" Chapman has no doubts that late wife Beth Chapman would be happy he had found love in his new fiancée, Francie Frane. The Dog the Bounty Hunter star opened up about his engagement to PEOPLE after announcing Monday he had popped the question to Frane 10 months after losing his partner of nearly 30 years to cancer in June 2019.
"I need a partner," Chapman told the outlet "I've said it before. There will never be another Mrs. Dog. There is not. Francie couldn't do that. There will be a last Mrs. Chapman. If Beth was here, and saw Francie and saw how she was raised, her morality and this and that, Beth would say, 'Big daddy, don't lose her.'"
"You'll never forget the spouse," he added. "You can't help it. I will never forget. But I've got to get out there. I've got to be able to say, 'I came out of this and you can, too.' As a human being, I don't think you look for — not a replacement, because you can never find one. I'm learning that right now."
Chapman and Frane first met when he was inquiring to her husband about work to be done around his Colorado property, only to learn Frane had lost her husband to cancer months before Beth's death. The two began bonding over the phone and started dating at the start of the year. As for his decision to get married again, Chapman explained, "When you know, you know. ...I believe in marriage. Beth taught me."
The reality television personality has been criticized for moving on so soon after Beth, but has his family completely behind him. Daughter Bonnie wrote on Instagram after the engagement news broke, "As usual very thankful for those who are supportive, to those who want to criticize: please just let my father live in peace. Let him be happy, please for the love of god let him be. My father has gone through so much this past year without my mother. It's been extremely difficult to see one parent pass, and the other so intent on following."
Bonnie said her father "deserves to be happy," noting the tattoo of her mom's name still on his chest. "He'll never forget her and the love she gave him," she wrote. "She would be happy my father is in love and finding peace. Please keep your comments to yourself, and if you can't then it reflects more on you than him. Life has never been easy for my dad, but love is something that comes naturally to him."
"Francie is a wonderful woman, as usual no one can replace my mother; but it's okay to let new people in," Bonnie continued. "Life is filled with so much sorrow and hurt, in times like this is when love is found unexpected. For those who claim to know my mother’s wishes: please remember that we as a family went through every excruciating and painful detail of what was next. I had this talk with her, my mother had so much love for my father, she would never want him to be alone. My mom wanted him to be happy no matter what."