Invisible Dogs


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Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams / music by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, over 2,000 people walked “invisible dogs” down the streets of Brooklyn on a Sunday afternoon. The leashes were on loan from the current owner of 51 Bergen Street, the factory space where the invisible dog toy was invented in the 1970s. Participants of all ages spread out from Red Hook to Brooklyn Heights, very seriously walking their very silly dogs.


Digital Video: Agents Adams, Haskel, VanDamme
Digital Photography: Agents Nicholson, Sokoler

About a month ago I got an email from Keith Schweitzer from No Longer Empty. The group transforms vacant spaces into public art exhibitions and had an exhibition coming up in an abandoned factory in Brooklyn. He told me there were over 2,000 invisible dog leashes collecting dust on a shelf and wondered if I would like to put them to use. Yes, please.


The crowd

The factory space served as our meeting point. It’s an incredibly cool spot, and it was fun knowing that the leashes we would be using were created right there in the 1970s. The building was recently bought by a French artist, who is converting it into an art space.

It’s tough to say exactly how many participants showed up. We had over 3,000 RSVPs, and the crowd was so large that we filled up the giant warehouse and then had an enormous line of people waiting to get in winding around the block. I think it’s safe to say more than 2,000 showed up. Thankfully, we had enough leashes for everyone.


Explaining the mission

All of the participants showed up having no idea what they would be doing. I gave a quick talk explaining the history of the building and what the mission would entail, and then we passed out the leashes. Everyone was just told to spread out and go on a walk for an hour or so, behaving as if they were walking an actual dog.


Passing out leashes

We had a very diverse group of agents, with folks of all ages and races participating.


Three dogs pass at an intersection

The guy above told me his nickname was “Big Dog” and that’s why he had the “BEWARE OF THE DOG” bumper sticker. It certainly seemed appropriate for the mission.

There were so many great reactions throughout the day. With 2,000 people spread out all over the neighborhood, it was impossible to document them all. Most people laughed or smiled. Some ignored us. Others got irritated when no one would tell them what was going on. Typical dialogue went about like this:

Stranger: Where did you get that?
Agent: What? My dog? At a shelter.
Stranger: No, the leash.
Agent: At a pet store.
Stranger: Ahh! No one will tell me what is happening!

Everyone had their own theory about what must be happening. The two most common I overheard were that we were promoting shelter dogs and that we were protesting dog poop.

Some of the best reactions came from folks in cars. Anyone driving on Court or Smith Streets would have seen hundreds of dogs in a very short span of time. Lots of people rolled down their windows to shout questions. One guy driving an MTA bus even pulled over, opened his door, and asked what was going on with a laugh.

The best reactions came from those who played along and Yes Anded us. Lots of people really got into it and stopped to join the fun. “Oh what breed is he?” “Can I pet him?” “He’s so cute!”

There were lots of kids on the streets, and it was fun to see their reactions. Several parents played along, and some kids were a little confused when their mom or dad claimed to see the dog as well.

We also had lots of children working as agents.

Apparently this kid’s dog climbed the fence!


The Dutton family all participated together

The most fun part of the mission was running into real dogs. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever confused animals during an Improv Everywhere mission. I loved seeing their reactions.

Lot of participants visited local establishments along their walk. Bars and cafes were soon filled with invisible dogs, at least the ones that allowed dogs were.


Grabbing a drink while keeping the dogs outside


The pet store on Smith had some visitors


Someone purchased a bone for the dogs

A dog kennel quickly put up the above sign on their door after getting a few rings from folks wanting to discuss lodging for their invisible dogs. I can’t say I blame them. Other establishments did all they could to attract the dogs and their owners into spending their money.


The Jake Walk bar was especially generous

Those waiting tables in bars and cafes were treated to a steady stream of passing dogs. Many had to go outside to get a better look.


Picking up invisible poop

Of course, dog ownership is not all fun and games.


Chasing pigeons


Going in two directions


Sniffing trash


Taking a leak


Chasing a bike


Agent Zalowitz takes a spill


Agent Lathan was a dog walker

Agent Lindquist and I had a very pleasant Sunday stroll with our new invisible Basset Hound puppy.

After a couple of hours, agents started slowly returning to the meeting point to turn in their leashes. Many were sad to tell their invisible dogs goodbye. It was really fun to do a mission that was so spread out, both in time and in space. It felt like we really blanketed the whole neighborhood with our silliness.

Mission Accomplished


OTHER RESOURCES:

Many more photos in higher resolution:
Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set
Agent Nicholson’s Flickr Set
More photos at No Longer Empty
Learn more about the history of 51 Bergen Street.

Stream or Download “The Dogs Were Let Out by Whom?” by Tyler Walker:

You can read the Agent Reports from folks who were involved in the comments on this post.

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Comments

comments

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86 Responses to Invisible Dogs

  1. martin_tf says:

    That is hilarious. One of your best yet.

  2. Agent Reeves says:

    Loooooove the video!!! This was so much fun! Thanks Charlie!

  3. Jason Eppink says:

    ROFLcopter at “The Dogs Were Let Out By Whom?”

  4. Haha :D This is soo sweet.

    I want one of those leases here in Norway. Maybe I could get a “excuse” to actually go outside, and not just sit inside at days to an end.

    Made me laugh.

  5. Lisa says:

    I love you guys and your improvish ideas, keep them coming one day I hope to participate just to say I did.

    love it

  6. Franky says:

    thank goodness there wasn’t an invisible Michael Vicks around.

  7. Agent EON says:

    I LOVE you guys! The world needs more silliness, and it’s great to see you doing your part! I wish I could have been there in person, but the video and pix brightened my day! Keep up the good work!

  8. SEV says:

    Aw damn, my dog jumping at a waiting car is not in the Youtube vid :(

    Oh well, was awesome fun to be part of :)

  9. Ryan NJ says:

    This is completely adorable. I really wished i lived in NY just because i MIGHT see stuff like this.

    Also +1000 points to the bar that played along with it. Were they in on it? or did they just pick it up fast?

    • Agent Brian says:

      they picked it up fast, i actually yelled at one for insisting on saying our dogs was, as they say “invisible”

  10. loren says:

    OMG

    Tears of laughter are dripping down my cheeks! My stomach hurts from laughing so hard.

    Invisible poop1 Dog climbing a fence!

    Hilarious.

  11. pffft says:

    keep up the good work. being taken out of the humdrum of everyday life in such a humorous and special way is NOURISHING to the soul.

  12. En Taro says:

    And here I was thinking it’d be another few months before we got to see another mission. This is awesome, you’ve made my day so much better.

  13. James says:

    I just laughed out loud in class when I saw the “first time we’ve ever confused animals” and the pictures that followed! Nicely done

    • Halapande says:

      lol :D
      Poor doggie and it’s owner .. must’ve been fun seeing you’all in the streets with the invisible doggies :)

    • Anna says:

      I love it. That made me laugh. I love everyone’s reactions. That’s the best part of this mission, in my opinion. They should have put in in the actual video.

    • Maria says:

      That was so funny!! I don’t know if it should have been in the video, but I would have loved to see ti in person. it’s kind of sad for dog lovers and could have brought the mood way down for some people if it were in. And the camera is mucho shaky and you can hear the person talking.

      but it’s so funny!!

  14. Rob says:

    haha! i love the dog’s reaction

  15. Rob says:

    LOL love the dog’s reaction

  16. Powers says:

    So what’s No Longer Empty going to do with the leashes now?

  17. Joey Fisher says:

    just great

  18. Colette says:

    You guys are the best! I luv all your missions! They make me laugh and smile every time! Wish we had such fun in boring CT. Keep doing them and maybe one day I’ll be able to join you for one of your missions!!!! LOL Colette :0)

    • Agent Liza says:

      Colette, I came down from southwestern CT. This was my forth mission, would have been my sixth but life happens. If you can get to a Shoreline East or Metro North train it’s not too hard to get anywhere in New York City if public transportation goes there.

  19. Danny says:

    Ive been caught chasing pigeons! haha loved the video!

  20. Ariamaki says:

    Just out of curiosity, the leashes were returned to you guys- Is that because the building-buyer wanted them back, or are you saving them for future shenanigans?
    Either way, this was one of the coolest missions yet, so keep up the awesome!

  21. Diane says:

    Love the guy picking up the invsible dog poo.

  22. Ginny says:

    I would like to find out about one of these ahead of time. This is really great fun!

  23. The Mailman says:

    My girlfriend was to visit NYC with her family last weekend. They went to Brooklyn on Sunday and saw people walking invisible dogs. When they told me the story, the first thing I told them was, “this could be a stunt by a NYC-based website that I know, called Improv Everywhere”.

    I was pretty happy when I saw the newsletter today in my email!

  24. Naughty says:

    Frigging awesome! I wish I could be a part of this. Come to Philly. Pleeeeeeeeeease!!! Lmao!

  25. Christy says:

    The pictures are exquisite. Whoever took them is an amazing photographer.

  26. L Vanover says:

    I think its liitle funny, however had I witnessed that I would have thought something was a little off in the head. Whats wrong with walking a REAl dog from a shelter and get them outside.

  27. Natahanila says:

    this is actually really lame, not even cool.

    too many people are doing it at once, it’s like a lame practical joke, a dollar store quality magic trick.

    i thought some of this website’s feats were amusing, but this one really dissapoints.

    what happened, improv everywhere?

  28. Braeden says:

    You guys are so awesome at that! I want to become an Improv Everywhere Agent too! But I live on the other side of the world to America! Oh well keep up the good work agents!

  29. eh says:

    this one seems a little too forced. too many people get in on them now. not your best.

  30. Bobby says:

    this is dumb!

    no wonder we are no longer a superpower anymore. all the young kids are pretending to pick up poop from an invisible dog while kids their age in other countries are studying thermodynamics.

    what a shame.

    and this is coming from a 26 year old…

  31. Todd says:

    Oh, man! I think I’ve dated about a hundred of those invisible bitches!

  32. LOL my friend got one where you press a button and it barks. Wish we could do something like this in UK?

  33. Agent Liza says:

    Again, a great unique mission. Thanks for a wonderful day.

  34. joel says:

    you guys r the best.

    seems invisible dogs luv to sniff other invisible dog butts too :)

    keep up the good work

    joel

  35. MioCaruso says:

    A lady was taking pictures of people walking their dogs near DUMBO, when she saw us, she run across the street and beg us to pose for her picture. We became “the holy grail” of her photo album.

    At a cafe near Dumbo, the hostess told us that no dogs were allowed , but she will make an exception. Everybody was smiling at us. THe manager came out and told us that they cannot allowed dogs, I told him that the hostess said it was alright, and they both had a silly discussion about dog policies in the cafe. After that, the manager gave us a free muffin!

  36. Jen says:

    I laughed so hard, my sides have splitted.

    LOL!
    I want me one of them toys now!
    =]

    Bravo on the successful mission!

  37. the old clipper says:

    you guys are the best. pure genius. can not understand why tv has not contacted you for a half hour comedy show

  38. ozy says:

    A+++ Would be pranked again!

  39. valdivia says:

    this guys make up the coolest stuff! why dont they go international, like in australia :D

  40. John says:

    Well, unfortunately, this mission left me nothing but very, very sad, because it took place in and around my neighborhood and I knew nothing about it until today. (Save for an offhand mention by a friend about “invisible dogs” the day after.) I have yet to participate in a live IE mission, so I’m really, really bummed.

    Also, my family and I visited Disney World every Easter between 1969 and 1975. My favorite store there was the Magic Shop on Main Street and I purchased an Invisible Dog there ca. 1972.

    I loved that dog.

    PS: The nice bar/restaurant on Smith Street that welcomed IDs is Robin de Bois and deserves your patronage. And that dog boarding place has a track record of being rather humorless, so don’t take it personally.

  41. renee says:

    When people asked what me what was going on , i said it was a
    “seeing eye dog convention” with a very straight face. Some just nodded and went on their way, satisfied that i had provided a justifiable answer…some shook their heads and one woman in particular said, “ah, that makes more sense now!” i thanked her for actually listening to what i said!

  42. Julie says:

    my FAVORITE was the “Invisible pets are welcome here!” sign!! LOVE that it got enough attention that shop owners put up signs related to it. THAT’S a success!!

  43. Julie says:

    Also… being an animal rescuer myself… I cant help but think there MUST be a great “shelter” awareness stunt in here somewhere!! Someone should look in to doing this for an awareness day for a local rescue group.

  44. Katherine says:

    aw i’m sad i missed out on this.. i was gonna go but decided not to last minute. looks like it was fun!

  45. Chris says:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26772044@N08/3960143501/

    Go to 42 seconds. Hilarious dog goes up to tree

  46. sandra says:

    I want them in Romania ! :(( I hate dogs but the invisible dogs are so cute!!! love them! please sell them in Romania :D

  47. Amanda says:

    I love you guys… Whenever I need to procrastinate for a short break you’re always there for me :) Thanks and keep up the great work!

  48. Raven says:

    Yeah, really, you can tell how stupid and unfunny this idea was just by the fact that the video only shows the PLAYERS, and not the REACTIONS.. not there there WERE any much of a reaction because there was nothing interesting to look at in the first place… Okay Improv people, hopefully you will do a lot better next time….

  49. Quentin P says:

    This mission broke my heart, I was in NY for the week, all the way from New Zealand, and was fully prepared up to sneak away from our group to participate, but our plans changed and i couldn’t come. GREAT MISSION, pretty sure there is nothing beter to do on a sunday than pack Brooklyn full of owners, and their ‘dogs’. Thank you anyway Improv Everywhere, keep up the amazing work

  50. Shocky says:

    Wtf. I want one too :(

  51. dayane says:

    muito legal quano c vaofer um filme?

  52. Deborah says:

    How do the leashes work? Never heard of invisible dogs before. I wish I could’ve been there. As a former brooklynite, I get a real laugh from your antics. I put a link for improvEverywhere on my browser toolbar, and whenever I need a lift, I check out your missions. Works every time…

  53. Josh C. says:

    This is a thing of beauty. Great work, guys!

  54. jan says:

    wunderbar, grandios :-)

  55. Nicole says:

    That was great! Wish you’d come near Antioch IL sometime.

  56. Rachel says:

    This on the other hand is HILARIOUS. Guys, this is why I love you.

  57. Laser says:

    Nice :), I love your guys work!

  58. huhu says:

    I love the dog’s reaction ?????

  59. Chris Emigh says:

    I haven’t laughed this hard in ages!! You guys are awesome! Now I want to get an “Invisible Dog” to walk in my hometown! Thanks so much for this hysterical video. Keep up the good work!

  60. Randall says:

    Hi!
    What an idea!
    What you did is just beyond my imagination!
    Great!

  61. ew says:

    wow hot dogs

  62. SIMON says:

    I really love the dog

  63. Elizabeth says:

    How do we get invisible dog walkers for our Gecko Fest Parade in Gulfport, FL? Or even for an Artwalk night? Can we rent the leashes?

  64. Jeremy says:

    Hi, just letting you know I linked to your page from here:

    http://areyoutargeted.com/2009/11/15/army-of-losers/

    Thanks for the material…

  65. Ankita says:

    oh! i wish i could participate too…
    but anyways, that was awesome!

  66. Nila says:

    Just playing catch-up and as usual you made my day.

  67. gavi says:

    my friend harry went on this and he hailed a cab and was in a heated argument with the driver about whether or not his dog could come when the owner spotted the invisible dog, and drove away.

  68. kelsey says:

    How on earth did I forget to comment on this? This was one of my favorites of your recent misions. This just made my day, you guys rock! Improv everywhere forever!

  69. :D says:

    Awesome doesnt even define THIS.:D

  70. Emily says:

    The confusion on the real dog’s face is priceless!

  71. Claudia says:

    I do remember these things! Thanks for reminding us all we need to play more often! Life is way too serious.

  72. Jennifer says:

    absolute classic!!!!!!! love the picking up of invisible dog poo!!!!!!!!!

  73. Krizpy says:

    Hey there. :) Wow great website. I wish I could participate. Come to Virginia! :D

  74. Marisa Mockery says:

    Ha! That’s awesome. I totally thought the agents would be allowed to keep their leashes, though. After all, that dude said they were collecting dust…what’s he going to do with them afterward?

    Ah well. Awesome mission :D