The country star is dog dad to whippet-beagle mix Ella and retired racing greyhound Cole

By Tomás Mier and Julie Jordan
November 18, 2019 08:35 PM
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Cole and Ella are the two dogs Hunter Hayes has always “Wanted.”

Hayes tells PEOPLE in this week’s Sexiest Man Alive issue that his two pups — Cole, a retired racing greyhound, and Ella, a whippet-beagle mix — are the perfect furry friends for the country star.

“Cole reacts to my energy very different from Ella,” he says. “When I get really, really frustrated, Cole will leave the room. Peace out, you figure this out.”

Meanwhile, Ella clamors for his attention to take his mind off whatever’s bothering him.

“She will actually come to me and give me the whole, ‘Hey, we should go outside, I need to go outside. Will you go outside?’” he adds.

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

Hunter Hayes with Ella
Heather Hazzan

Though his racing years are behind him, Hayes, 28, says Cole “could still run with the best of them,” even if his dog is a little lazy now.

“He’s a retired athlete. He’s just living life,” he says of the greyhound. “He’s so mellow. He’s the opposite of a guard dog, I can tell you that. He’s very rarely affectionate, [you] kind of got to earn his affection. He’s an old man.”

“Cole is where I strive to be,” he adds.

Thanks to his mellow personality, Cole is the perfect companion on the road. Ella? Not so much.

“We took her on one bus trip and I learned a very valuable lesson,” Hayes says through a smile. “She is safe and sound at home and her little yard.”

Hayes confesses though, that it took some time to have Ella cozy up to him. Hayes adopted a 2-year-old Ella right after he purchased his first house in Nashville in 2017.

“She wanted really nothing to do with people in general,” he says. “You could tell she had the biggest heart, her eyes, you could tell she has the biggest personality. But she was so, so antisocial.”

“It took six hours to get her to come in the house,” he continues. “She wanted nothing to do with anybody. We had to chase her around the yard and eventually we just left the door open and she started following Cole and Cole kind of guided her back into the house. Now she’s my shadow.”

After a long trip on the road, Hayes, who dropped Wild Blue, Part I in August, says he has the perfect formula for a “lazy Sunday” with the two pups.

“When I come off the road, typically it’s Sunday and we’ve been going for weeks at a time or sometimes a month at a time. My favorite thing to do is to sit in my little corner of the couch, left corner, and I have both of them on the couch with me and it’s the best,” he says. “And we all binge watch something on Netflix. It’s phenomenal. It’s a lazy Sunday. We watched the sun go from midday to gone and then they come down in the studio with me and hang out. They like loud noises. Thank heavens.”

For more on the Sexiest Man Alive — and all the hottest guys in Hollywood — click here and pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands now.