Shut Up, Sarah MacLachlin


If I see Sarah McLaughlin’s sad puppy-dog eyes begging me to spend only $19 a month for one more abused puppy, I think I’m going to scream.  And dogloos drive me absolutely mad.

You, Too, Can Choose To Give Money Every Month to a Dog Over a Starving Child

(A dogloo is an expensive igloo-shaped doghouse made from insulated plastic.) Don’t get me wrong–they’re practical for outdoor dogs. It’s just that we have developed better housing for animals than for urban children of the poor.

I heard a true story once:  A doctor was dining at an outdoor café in a third-world country. A preteen child walked up to her table and, staring vacantly into space, reached out to her full plate and that of her lunch partner and helped himself to their food with his hands, sniffing and feeling for it, as if blind.  When they pushed his hands away, he simply reached back, unthinkingly, still staring at nothing.  Her companion explained why:

After a few years of the standard slum diet, children did not speak or play or do anything except urinate and defecate and sleep and move around seeking food.  They had no other brain functions left.
A whole population of children lived unparented, eating whatever they could find on the city’s huge garbage heap.  The garbage included highly toxic substances.  Later on her trip, the doctor was present at an autopsy of one of these children:  “The brain was actually missing a large portion—it was almost melted away” was how she put it.

So, I have been thinking about dogloos, and slums, and people living in cardboard cartons, and slum housing, and tin roofs, and problems with water, and insect- and rain-proof grain storage, and overpopulation and birth control, and a whole lot of stuff.  I am even thinking of mudslides, and ease of rebuilding afterward.

What if an architect or engineer smarter than I designed a “peoploo”?  A peoploo system? The bottom of the post goes into some of my ideas about this, but smarter minds than mine could come up with better ones.

So, how does one get a peoploo?  Simple.  You ask for one.  You are given one.  All you have to do is to agree to permanent birth control for every male member of your household over the age of (let the nation decide, but at least 18, and perhaps as young as 16) who will live in it, and no more than four members (or whatever the clever designers work out) to a peoploo.

Bigger family?  Get more peoploos.   What constitutes a family?  Whoever you say is in your family.   Perhaps when you get your peoploo, your family photo can be sandwiched in plexi and mounted next to the front door. 

Oh, how awful! you say.  Sterilization, you say.  Nazi, you say.   Well, I say back:  It’s entirely voluntary.  You can instead choose to continue to live in a cardboard box, or under a piece of tin, or wherever it is you are more comfortable.  No one is forcing you. 

If a nation prefers, let one earn a peoploo with the one-child rule that China has.  Or phase in the number of kids—what do I know?  If the average number is six, make the earning number three, then lower it to two, and work down to one.

Why sterilize the males?  Because they make babies with way more women than the ones they live with.  Because they are the toughest audience to sway toward birth control.  And, most importantly, because long-term birth control choices for women are more expensive and risky, while for men, a ten-minute outpatient procedure does the trick.

Oh, hang on a minute—how do single moms and widows earn a peoploo?  Well, I guess that is an issue…hmmm…Norplant, I guess, despite the nasty harm from long-term use of those hormones (e.g. much higher chance of chronic depression). 

Will families sneak extra folk into their peoploos—folk who haven’t yet had their faucets shut off, so to speak?  Perhaps.  Let’s get people out of cardboard and worry about it then.  Maybe we’ll need paid family planning spies, like in China (Nazi!!!).

Now, clever designers, don’t go overboard.  Surely, if we follow the K.I.S.S. rule, we can crank these simple things out in six months…a year, tops.  And third world countries, surely you can do the math, and see that your slums could be wiped out entirely in two or three generations.    Perhaps, with clean homes, and pride of ownership, and fewer damaged and unwanted children, the slums will turn around—who knows?


Then we can work on saving the dogs.

I am thinking of a square dogloo with gently rounded corners, one-story, but with a top deck and molded lip tall enough to corral a toddler.  Perhaps the top could be used for shallow planting of grass if the climate supports this, which could provide cooling/heating (does the plastic hold up to that weight and the roots?  I don’t know).
Perhaps the top could be used to store water.  Perhaps in Asia and Africa, included bins could allow the top to be used as for rice storage or as a granary:   insect- and rodent-resistant.  Doors and windows would include interior snap-in screen frames so that anti-malarial screening cloth could be replaced easily when needed.
It would be lovely if the front could have a clever awning.  Everyone likes to have a shady place to sit, or somewhere cool to sit and watch the rain while preparing dinner.
The outside corners of my peoploo have four buttresses.  These serve to mark the yard.  You see, when you receive a peoploo, not only do you get a home; you also get your own property.   This ensures that light and air reach into the slum, and foot traffic can flow freely.  It also ensures that law enforcement has access, and a view from above. Again, here, smarter designers than I would need to figure out how to do this so that these property markers don’t impede foot traffic or form a hazard.
The buttresses wouldn’t have to reach the ground, but only lock with the adjacent peoploo buttress, to force a distance—makes a nice place to hang laundry from, too.   I see them slipping together like puzzle pieces, but who knows what our presumed engineer(s) will come up with?
Well, it’s three years since I wrote this, and we now know that we should be suspicious of ALL plastics as having the potential for causing long-term harm, so I guess my style of peopleoos are out. But I still think the concept is perfectly valid. Make ’em out of something else. As long as they’re stackable, weatherproof, and inexpensive–c’mon architects and donors–let’s get crackin’
What should be done  with abused animals?  Immediately eliminate their pain.  Offer them for adoption if they are not too damaged.  Euthanize them humanely if they are not adopted promptly or are not adoptable.  Their souls will then be pain- and body-free.  Feed those empty bodies to the poor.  You can bet that overseas poor will be grateful, even if our own poor may not be.
Or, as put more succinctly by a redditor:

(BTW, this suggestion was first presented, jokingly, in June ’11 on reddit–I copied my Peopleloo article to Blogger two months before that, in April ’11.  ‘Course, everything reddit says, it says better.  The power of the hive mind.)

Leave a comment


  1. M-R

     /  2014/09/26

    Well said ! – and I simply back-tracked to remove the unwanted word on the end of the URL and Bob was my uncle.
    This post probably caused you great satisfaction of a large degree of horror to some readers – very satisfying ! 🙂


    • I am so pleased you liked what the post had to say. When I say few have read it, you are the twentieth. Thank you!


      • M-R

         /  2014/09/26

        You do not need to thank me, OB – I only ever do what pleases me. 🙂


  2. Surely we can do better than feed surplus dogs to starving children in the long run. Can’t we? Sigh….


    • I have been wondering if and when you’d ever reach this post, Barbara. I admire you for having the strength to include that “long run”. Of course, that would not be a desired outcome. But I get so ill at our spending more on our pampered pets than we do on our disadvantaged children, or more to save animals than children. Good grief, our world is screwed up.

      Our family’s dog ate only Purina Dog Chow. As did almost every single dog I knew, growing up. Happy, healthy, long-lived dogs all. The cats? Cat chow or Friskies. The owners who did otherwise were, frankly, laughed at for spoiling their animals.

      Today, owners live in grand homes that SMELL–literally–because they leave moist canned food out 24 hours a day–we wouldn’t want Fluffy to STARVE. No wonder all sorts of neighborhoods now have…creatures of all sorts endemic that did not used to be everywhere. Yuck!! And the poorest families spend money like this on their pets. Crazy!


  3. Rich people, rich dogs. Poor people, poor dogs. It was such a shock to us when we moved out to the country to see how dogs were treated….rarely neutered or spayed….and starved for attention and love. There was a little cocker spaniel who lived on the farm next door whose uterus was falling out from having so many babies. OMG. And they would kill the puppies after they were born instead of frigging fixing the dog. I developed such an intense hatred for these people, there are no words. But then you bring up children and China and one-child policies. I know the situation is improved in China, vastly improved. But I cannot get the picture of some of the begger children I saw in Shanghai out of my mind. I won’t describe for you here, Babe, but man’s inhumanity to man is alive and well. I will just say that when I got upset and asked where child protective services were, I was looked at as though i were mad. These are peasants after all, they are different.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I need to be cautious here…my original intent was to remain anonymous, always, but effing FB and esp. LinkedIn prevented that (one of my Linked folk complained about my OB identity there–I argued it was my business ID to BE an outlier, but they disagreed). Okay:

      Let me say I knew some folks from Asia who had lived here for decades. Got a hardly-weaned puppy. Left it all day long, outside, in a box. No comfort object, its eyes not yet open all the way. Cried, of course. I–ripped them a new one. Told them: Water. Blanket. Ticking clock. Affection. They were astonished, but did at least the first three. Fast forward fifteen years, same people, second dog. Just as loving as any pet owners. Doted on the dog. Transformed by doggie love, I guess. But I like to think my fury had something to do with it.

      Re: What you say: Poor, or culturally poor? Not all poor treat their animals poorly. Depends, I think. And certainly the very rich have very sick traditions of cruel animal “sports” and cruelty-to-animal dishes (foie gras, live monkey brains, etc.) as much or more than the poor.

      I think it is takes education and empathy. The poor are often more ignorant. The rich are often less empathetic.


      • I am speaking in generalizations, of course, reinforced by my life experience. Of course, you are right…there are the outliers in every scenario. What we’ve seen time and again out here in the ungentrified country is that animals are treated like, well, animals! I don’t like it, Babe. Owners are not transformed by doggie love; they seem impervious to it With exceptions of course. And every hunting season we have the scenario of the abandoned hunting dogs limping onto our property completely worn out, covered in ticks, thirsty, hungry, but unfortunately falling into the category of “that dog don’t hunt.” I get murderously angry at those good ol’ boys in their fancy trucks when some animal is on my front porch with its eyes full of ticks. I love the story of your rehab efforts on the Asian couple.


        • I am truly an obnoxious holier-than-thou buttinski, which is part of why I’m surrounded by such a huge circle of well-wishers and admirers.
          On the other, you are clearer more well-travelled (not in that women-can-be-nasty sense) and experienced (ditto) than I, so I must accept what you say, with dismay. Plus, you used one of my favorite words in your argument.
          Boy, does what you describe go against film’s portrayal of the beloved hound dog, doesn’t it? That is so sad. One does not want to think “poor white trash”, but the phrase bubbles up from the ugly past. I want to be open-minded and understanding of ignorance, but instead, my mind says: “Scum!”


          • Are you kidding? Who needs hordes of average admirers? Not moi? I’d take a handful of awesome gals like US any day! Look, we are all informed by our various experiences and what I’ve seen out here has completely reshaped my definition of “country.” Yeah, the element of PWT is alive and well. We’ll discuss their children someday who appear in the Food Lion without proper warm clothing…..OMG, Babe, seriuosly, I can’t take it. Over and out from this little corner of the world for the time being. XXX I’ll read another post soon…..and we’ll go off on another tangent.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Looking forward to it–and the day I get to read more of yours–now that you’ve been FP’d, I can’t even get through your comment section any more, you popular thing, you : ) (and so well-deserved!)


            • OK, I’m not out in the kitchen yet and just have to talk to you briefly about this FP business. Truly, Babe, I am oblivious to a lot of the stuff around stats and followers and what gets FP’d and what doesn’t. I pay no attention. What I do pay attention to is my loyal readers. I know who is reading and commenting and they are part of my little tribe and I, theirs. So here’s the weird part: all the people who read and comment on my posts are just my regular old pals. Yes, I literally got hundreds of new “followers’ from getting FP’d and almost NONE of them read or comment from what i can tell. It is a nice compliment to be FP’d, but like so much in life, not really what it’s cracked up to be. And I don’t want to launch into the blogging stratosphere – I’m perfectly happy right where I am with such a madly varied group of friends. Love it!!!


            • Great googly-moogly! I just assumed…I guess because I started off reading the older posts, or hit the newer ones sooner…Good heavens! How on EARTH do you write so often so well AND keep up with all those commenters AND do all your rescue work AND garden AND maintain spouse and friends, etc. Amazing. I can barely do my teensy job (which I’m supposed to be doing NOW, btw!), and take my teensy daily walk, and deal with my daily crises, and I’m doing only ONE volunteer thingy a week as of now. Granted my crises are time-consuming, still, but–You are VERY impressive, Barbara.


        • Edit: “clear-ly” more well-travelled… (sigh)



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