CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Every year, the Tussey Mountainback race donates almost $9,000 to a Centre County non-profit for its relay and ultramarathon races.

And they announced this year’s recipient on Friday, Jan. 27 for the 24th annual races: Nittany Greyhounds, the Port Matilda-based organization that relies solely on donations.

“We are an adoption group that rehomes retired racing greyhounds,” President Bob Koch said. “We have placed, in the last 25 years, over 2,000 greyhounds nationwide. We have adopters all over, from Ohio to Florida to Arizona. They can come from anywhere if they’re willing to make the travel.”

Koch said when the greyhounds retire from racing, they’re put into an adoption program and given to adoption groups like Nittany Greyhounds.

“We place them into homes where they’re able to live out the rest of their life on a couch,” Koch said. “Greyhounds are very quiet, good-mannered dogs. People don’t realize they don’t need a lot of exercise.”

Greyhounds are sprinters, according to Koch, so they run for short periods of time and then sleep for about 18 hours a day.

He said they’re unfamiliar with many parts of home life, but they adjust quickly and are easy, relaxing pets once they do so.

“What you have to remember is the fact that they’ve never heard a doorbell,” Koch said. “They’ve never seen a child before. They don’t know what a vacuum cleaner is, and they’ve never seen stairs. So that’s all stuff that they need to work on learning, but once they master that, they’ll find your couch, if they can, and they’ll take it over, and it’s not your couch anymore.”

He said they’ll be shy for about three days, then they’ll start to become more familiar with their home. Then, after about three weeks, their personalities will start to come out more.

“After about three months, you’ll start to see the dog that you’re going to be with,” Koch said. “We stand by all of our adopters, so if there’s a problem, or an adjustment they’re not able to work through, we’re here for them.”

Tussey Mountainback Race Director Mike Casper said running for the dogs is an amazing opportunity, and runners are getting excited about it.

“Our income comes from registrations and donations,” Casper said. “So we seek out sponsorships, and we encourage teams and ultramarathoners to come out and run, and everything we earn beyond our expenses will go to Nittany Greyhounds.”

Koch said the money will go a long way and will especially benefit its injured dog program.

“We take dogs that have broken legs, muscle sprains, broken toes, basically injuries that happened on the track, and we rehabilitate them,” Koch said. “Those expenses can be pretty costly. We just had a dog not too long ago who had broken his leg and needed orthopedic surgery, and that bill was $5,000.”

He said Nittany Greyhounds has a tremendous amount of support with their next big fundraiser coming up at the end of April.

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The Tussey Mountainback races are free, with the year’s first race being the Colyer ‘Sno Big Deal 10K run on Saturday, Feb. 4 in Rothrock State Forest. Donations for Nittany Greyhounds will be accepted at the races, according to Casper, and locally adopted greyhounds and their owners will be there for a meet and greet, weather permitting.