In October, Walker Hayes agreed to add a puppy to the family after his six children began asking for one. Hazel has been a welcome addition, the country singer admits, and has helped him, his wife and their kids heal following the death of infant daughter Oakleigh Klover, last June.

The Hayes family adopted Hazel, a cavadoodle (that's a Cavalier King Charles spaniel mixed with a poodle) after the artist and his wife made a deal with their three sons and three daughters: Mom and Dad would get the kids a puppy if the children took on the responsibility of walking Magnolia, their family dog, for eight weeks. "I didn't think they'd do it," Hayes admits — but they did, and he's happy about it.

"Hazel has been the best dog," the singer tells People. "The kids absolutely can’t get enough of her, and she gets along with Magnolia. Hazel’s whole butt wags when you walk in. It’s just the cutest. She has really lit up our house."

The Hayes' home was in need of a little light, certainly: On June 6, 2018, Hayes' wife Laney went into labor with their seventh child and experienced a rupture of her uterus. She was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section, but doctors couldn't save the baby girl, named Oakleigh Klover Hayes. Laney's life, too, was in danger; it required numerous blood transfusions and a two-hour surgery to stabilize her.

"For a time, Laney and the kids talked about maybe naming the puppy Band-Aid," Hayes says. "But you know, the kids chose Hazel, and I’m glad."

Hayes canceled numerous tour dates following Oakleigh's death, but these days, he's back on the road for his 2019 Dream on It Tour. The singer is working on new music and told Taste of Country in September that he had been working on a song for Oakleigh.

"[Life lately has given me] a good focus on what’s really important and why I do what I do. And those reasons are to take care of my family, but also to make a difference in people’s lives," Hayes admits to People. "I’m really looking forward to my audience and who’s going to show up and what they need in their lives right now. I want people to leave in maybe a better direction than they came in."

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