Whenever I’ve been faced with loss, I’ve tried to focus on life. When I had two previous miscarriages, I felt a need to get pregnant again as quickly as possible. I had five pregnancies in six years. When my 13-year-old cocker spaniel died in 2015 - the dog I’d had since college, the one who had been by my side for so many life changes - we decided to wait to get another dog. It didn’t make sense, as our kids were 6, 3 and 2-months-old. My husband and I agreed we’d wait at least half a year before we got another pet. But there was too much quiet in our house, even with three young children. I missed the sound of our dog’s tags hitting the dog bowl. The patter of claws on the hardwood floor, the sound of the flap of our doggy door as she went outside. We lasted only six weeks as a pet-free home before bringing home our first boxer, our rescue, Dozier. If I only knew then how much that dog would mean to me. We got him because my husband always wanted a boxer, but he soon became all mine. When Dozier collapsed and died suddenly in my daughter’s arms in January at the dog park, it didn’t take long to start talking about getting another dog. We have a 1-year-old boxer, Maggie, who desperately missed having a companion. And, as crazy as it seemed, having only one dog and three kids in a very small house still seemed so quiet. Around the time of Dozier’s death, my grandmother died, and, 10 weeks after that, so did my dad. We needed time to grieve. After a horrible start to 2019, we recently decided it was time to focus on something happy, to focus on new life. Having more children was out of the question - I know my limits. But after searching for months, we found him: a fawn-colored boxer puppy with a white stripe down his forehead and big green eyes. At only 8 weeks old, his paws were the size of silver dollars. A European boxer, he’s going to be a big boy, just like our Dozier. Last weekend, my 10-year-old daughter and I packed up the van and made a three-day trek to Missouri and back to pick him up, our Gus. The puppy hated riding in the crate, and much preferred riding in my daughter’s lap in the backseat, snoozing much of the 9.5-hour ride home, though we stopped frequently to let him out to pee. On our way, we talked to him in high-pitched voices, calling him all kinds of nicknames, “Gus-Gus” or “Gussy Gussy.” He tilted his head, giving us licks on the face, wagging his nub of a tail. As we pulled into our driveway, my husband was waiting on us, and my two younger children ran across the front yard excitedly shouting, “GUS! GUS!” Gus was finally home. For two days, the kids took turns holding him, learning how to carry him. Our 1-year-old boxer, Maggie, patiently taught him to play tug-of-war with her rope. They sat together on the couch, looking out the window, spying on our neighborhood cats. On Monday night, as I read a book to my youngest daughter, Gus snoozed on the bed at our feet. This year has been rough on us. But it seemed like things were turning around. It seemed like something was going right. Until it didn’t. After tucking in my youngest child and turning out the light, I carried Gus back to the living room, where he lay on my chest while I watched TV. A short while later, I put him down and walked back to the bedroom where my two older kids were going to bed. My husband sat on the floor, reading them a book. I stepped over him, giving each of my kids a kiss on the head, then turned around to exit the room. Then I tripped. I was standing up one moment, the next I was on the floor, with a brown shag carpet in my face. My knee and elbow stung as I rolled over, only to see our puppy Gus unresponsive on the floor. I fell, and he was under me. I didn’t even realize he had been in the room, but he had a habit of following me wherever I went, his oversized paws bounding about in a happy way that reminded me of a rabbit. My husband scooped up his limp body. He was still breathing as I threw on shoes and grabbed my keys, taking him from my husband as I ran out the door, not even realizing I was in my pajamas. As I drove to the emergency vet, I rubbed his soft, velveteen body, trying to keep him stimulated. I blew air into his mouth, scared that I might need to resuscitate him. I prayed out loud, asking God to save his little life. After so much death lately, I prayed to let him live. And days later, at least as I write this, he is alive. But Gus has significant brain damage. He’s blind from the impact, his jaw is immobile due to nerve damage and while he tries to walk and can still hear, it’s devastating to see his beautiful green eyes so bloodshot, knowing he can’t see us back. He’s at the vet, hooked up to IV fluids and medication to reduce the brain swelling. I don’t know if Gus will make it. We are trying to give him as much time as we can to heal. But what I do know is that I’m done with 2019. I’m done with trying to turn this year around. It’s not even July yet, but I’m ready for 2020. Wake me up when it’s the New Year. Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.