The weekend before last we met a pair of enormous Great Danes in a hand-made soap shop on the way home from Bendigo, big as horses and lazily friendly. We’d been thinking about getting a dog, and so once we got home we did some research on the breed: big (of course!) but gentle, mostly inside dogs, sociable with both children and other pets, but without the high exercise requirements of some other dogs. Perfect for us! More research, more reading, and big discussions: was it a good time to get a dog, with a baby on the way? Should we listen to the advice of (most of) those around us and wait ’til we found out just how much work a new baby can be?

But in the end we decided it was somewhat of a “test run” for baby: the lessons we could learn looking after a puppy would surely make us better prepared for parenthood! (I mean: if, for example, you don’t have a dog bed, doggy can sleep on the floor — but that sort of thing is frowned upon with a newborn.) And so we looked around and found a pup that week: 4 months old, black with little patches of white on toes and chest. We drove out to a dog-park to meet her, her mother and the owner and get a better idea of her temperament, how big she might grow, what her personality was like. Smitten, we discussed on the way home and decided to go ahead with the “adoption”. We already had the name: Lucy.

Dee picked her up the following weekend (I was at the Supanova expo) and so we’ve had li’l Lucy for nearly a week now — and it certainly seems like good practise for child-minding! We need food! We need a bed! Oops, we need a chew toy to stop her stealing our sneakers! And a leash so we can go for walks! A little raincoat for the misty mountain rains! (Probably not strictly necessary, that one, but still cute.) A mop for the floorboards when we don’t get her outside quickly enough! (Wish it was that easy with a baby…) Yep, lots of preparation required.

But she’s settling in nicely now (and so are we), and so is affectionate and gentle that it is impossible to imagine her bowling us over or dragging us down the road when she’s fully grown — which, at a projected 70kg, she could well do.