SEATTLE -- Casually dressed techies, blue badges flapping, dart past construction workers during morning rush hour at the global headquarters of Amazon, the juggernaut accelerating the growth of our on-demand culture.
A company food stand dispenses free bananas to commuters streaming between the sleek Amazon office towers that have invaded a light-industrial district on the shore of Seattle's Lake Union. Gardeners in a glass and steel sphere step back to admire a rare corpse flower in bloom.
Through it all weave hundreds of dogs, whose presence may be the ultimate workplace perk -- especially in Seattle, where canines outnumber kids. More than 7,000 dogs are registered to come to work at Amazon's offices here, compared with 6,000 a year ago.
That amounts to a dog-person ratio of 1:7 at the mothership, where about 49,000 people are employed. A host of dog-oriented enterprises, including doggy day-care and trendy pet-friendly bars and restaurants, contribute to the beehive of activity in the neighborhood where Facebook and other tech firms are also opening offices.
On a recent day in Amazon's 12-story Apollo building, a Havanese named Cooper accepted a customary snack from a receptionist at the lobby counter, his owner hurrying upstairs to teleconference with London. There was scarcely time to sniff Sparky, a Shih Tzu-Maltese trotting to an elevator, or Murphy, a goldendoodle running out on his person's coffee break.
"Nobody knows me," says Shefali Duhan, Cooper's human companion and a sales team program manager, but "everybody" knows Cooper.
Duhan had jumped at the chance to get a pet to bring to work after she transferred from Amazon in Hyderabad, India, which doesn't allow dogs. Now she wouldn't think of leaving Cooper at home.
"You can't focus at work if you know there's someone at home you have to take care of," she said.
Countless studies have extolled the benefits -- for employees and companies -- of having pets in the workplace. British researchers have even associated dogs in the office with reduced employee turnover, which is notoriously high at tech companies competing for talent. News reports have suggested Amazon has struggled with turnover, but a company spokeswoman declined to provide figures.
"The benefits of dog-friendly workplaces may manifest as lower rates of absenteeism and higher worker morale and productivity," according to a 2017 paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.