Invisible Dogs

Produced by: Charlie Todd
Digital Video: Agents Adams, Haskel, VanDamme
Digital Photography: Agents Nicholson, Sokoler

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.

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.


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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  1. 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!

  2. 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?

    • 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!!

  3. 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)

    • 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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!

  9. 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…

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!!

  14. 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.

  15. 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….

  16. 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

  17. 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…

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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

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