Went to Perugia this morning to get a new dog cushion for Digby. His hip dysplasia is causing him pain when he walks and in this bitter cold his favourite position is curled up in front of the fire on a padded cushion. The dog bed we currently have was bought in Scotland shortly after the two boyz arrived and is today a combination of health hazard and eyesore - it's held together by a few fraying and heavily chewed pieces of cloth. Its a shame to see him dragging his back legs along but it is a common problem in the breed when they get to 8 years old. Painful or not, it doesn't interfere with his appetite. Hopefully, the warmer weather when it arrives will alleviate the symptoms. For the time being one of us has to take his elder brother out for a walk while Digby sits by the gate sciouring the horizon and waiting mournfully for his return.Polish Lowland Sheepdogs 'do' sad well.
Saw the first tangible signs that the recession has finally hit Italy. A perfume factory next door to the dog supply shop in Perugia is closing. It employs 90 staff but demand from the US and eastern Europe has collapsed and the company is retrenching to its remaining factory in Milan. The outside of the factory is covered in hand painted signs berating the management as liars and thieves etc etc. Large bunches of brightly coloured balloons add a festive and very Italian touch to the sad sight. I think there is going to be much much more of this. I spoke to an old family friend in Moscow last night - Russian industrial production fell 20% in January - and he says that contracts are being cancelled and imports are in free fall. Without these large export markets the Germans and Italians are going to find it hard to stop their respective economies declining by four or five percent this year - a figure much higher than the one or two percent they are expecting.It's often forgotten that Britain accounts for 14% of EU exports and its not difficult to forecast that demand from the UK is likely to be dire this year. Add the weakness in the US and now Russia and Hungary and the snowballing effect of this downturn stretches everywhere including those countries that thought they would escape the worst of it.