Brantley Gilbert Opens Up About His Late Dog Alley: I Know Our Sweet Girl Is in Heaven

The country music star is featured in this year's Sexiest Man Alive issue with his late rescue pit-mix, Alley

When country star Brantley Gilbert first saw his dog, Alley, more than a decade ago, he thought she was a malnourished puppy.

The singer was playing at a bar in south Georgia when he noticed “this beautiful dog” in the parking lot. “Her markings were gorgeous,” Gilbert, 34, tells PEOPLE for this week’s Sexiest Man Alive issue. “People were getting ready to come inside and she was kind of hanging around, I guess because people had been giving her [food].”

Gilbert also noticed a man throwing beer bottles at Alley. “We had … let’s call it a conversation,” he recalls with a laugh. “After that she ran right up to me in the alley, so that’s what I named her, and she’s been with me ever since.”

Brantley Gilbert
Heather Hazzan

Rescuing Alley was a no-brainer for the singer. After their show, “we took her back to the hotel room and snuck her in,” Gilbert says. “We went and bought all the flea and tick stuff, and washed her three or four times. I put her in the bed on the floor, but when I woke up, she was in the bed with me, and I was covered in fleas.”

Back at home, Alley quickly settled in and became one of Gilbert’s closest confidants. “She was just kind of protective,” he adds. “We found a lot of marks on her … I think she may have been used as a bait dog for fights because she was timid for a long time. But she was a baby doll.”

Watch the full episode of Sexiest Man Alive: Dudes and Dogs, streaming now on, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

Gilbert’s photo shoot with Alley at home in October for this year’s Sexiest Man Alive issue became a day that he will always cherish.

“When PEOPLE invited me to be photographed with Alley, we had just found out she had cancer,” he explains. “Sadly she passed away shortly after, but I do believe all dogs go to heaven and I know our sweet girl is there now.”

In her last week, Alley was “happy and comfortable” and at peace, surrounded by those she loved including the singer’s wife Amber and their two kids, Gilbert adds. “[We] let her do whatever the hell she [wanted].”

For more on the Sexiest Man Alive – and all the hottest guys in Hollywood – click here and pick up this week’s issue, on stands Friday, Nov. 15!

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