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Google is officially a dog company, cats and other pets are welcome though

Google identifies itself as "a dog company" for a long time, thanks to a Leonberger that started it all. Here is a look at the tech major's extremely accommodating policies towards its canine friends.

(Image: Google) (Image: Google)
Story highlights
  • Google had its first canine visitor in 1999, a Leonberger named Yoshka.
  • Since then, the company has been more than accommodating to the pets of its employees across its campuses.
  • Over the years, this community of pets and their owners has organised events like pet therapy programs and shelter homes across Google offices.

Google has almost constantly ranked as one of the top workplaces to work at for the past many years. Sprawling offices, expressive work culture and numerous perks are a part reason for this. Another part is the accommodating nature of the technology major that tends to welcome people from all backgrounds and even their pets.

It might seem like an outlandish concept, but a look at Google's history will tell you that the company has allowed pets on its campuses for more than two decades now. In fact, Google has often encouraged its employees to bring their pets to work, especially at its Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The technology giant even has a cafe at its headquarters named in honour of its original Top Dog Yoshka. Yoshka was the first-ever pet to visit a Google campus. Its owner and long time Googler Urs Hlzle, who is now the senior VP of Engineering at Google, first brought the dog with him to work back in 1999.

Yoshka quickly became friends with everyone, "even people who delivered packages to the office," Google notes in an old blog. What started as an occasional visit turned into an everyday chore for the Leonberger as its master moved to the Mountain View office in the summer of 1999 along with the rest of the Google team. Yoshka has a complete blog dedicated to its day's tasks at Google at the time.

Yoshka passed away in 2011, but its legacy lives on to date. Post its naming, Yoshka's Cafe was decorated with a small museum dedicated to the Leonberger, displaying its favourite toy, fluffy ball, collar, and Google badge.

The museum even displays a small plaque on a podium that explains that it was Yoshka who helped Google become "a dog-friendly company."

Since then, the company has seen an ever-increasing love for pets among its workforce. Several initiatives over the years are shining examples of this.

One such is a dog park at the Mountain View campus called The Doogleplex. Another is a Doogler group created in 2018 that is essentially a Googler employee group and message board for those with pets. The group has been responsible for several pet-related initiatives such as puppy pop-ups - a puppy therapy program for Googlers across several Google offices.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the group became increasingly relevant as the Google workforce shifted to a work-from-home model. The pet-related events shifted to a virtual attendance wherein pets of Googlers were granted a couple of minutes to be introduced to the group and show off their skills.

Not just dogs

Google's love for pets is not limited to its Dooglers. The company mentions in its policies that it likes cats, however, there is a predictable catch to it.

It clarifies through an easily understandable argument that since it is "a dog company" first, it believes that any cats visiting its offices would be "fairly stressed out."

Google has not shied away from accommodating other animals at its workplaces too. In a remarkable move in the 2000s, the company rented goats to help mow down weeds and bush at Google headquarters.

Of course, the company regulates these permissions with regard to workplace efficiency. There are certain actions that can get a pet banned from the workplace. For dogs, excessive barking or any cases of biting can get them sent home immediately. Such limitations are practised in the presence of employees who are allergic to dogs.