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!