As I spent most of last week getting Windows 7 to work properly on my computer (which will be in a next post – it takes a while for me to get such things together) – I completely missed the chance to post about walking my dog in Brooklyn. Oh, my dog? Tashi. Was invisible. Was awesome. Was amazing. Like everyone else’s.
So, there I was doing cool cancer research in my lab when IE mailed me about a possible stunt on Sunday Sept 27th 2009. And I, like the good little jobless-but-willing-to-travel-randomly person that I am, promptly responded. And rounded up the only available suspect that I know – TH. Whose recent start in comic-dom is well worth checking out, BTW.
Having traveled a good 90-odd minutes to reach Bergen Street from NJ, we and a crap-load of people assembled in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. When Charlie Todd told us about what was going to be done that afternoon, it turned out that we were indeed meeting in an abandoned warehouse. Which had once upon a time manufactured Invisible Dogs (TH is waiting for his “dog” to finish “business” alongside). Turns out IE had 2000-odd invisible dogs, and they hoped that there were 2000-odd of us around too. The prank, as Todd put it, “pretty much wrote itself”.
We picked up our leashes and headed outside to give our “dogs” a nice stroll around Brooklyn. TH and I headed up and out of the street to ensure that we spread out and gave enough people in Brooklyn a reason to stare. Initially, barely anyone seemed to notice. Once we hit the main road though, cars were constantly stopping near us to find out just what the hell we were doing. No-one seemed to buy that “it was just a nice day, and we decided to take our dog for a walk” 🙂
My dog, Tashi, was a pretty snappy golden retriever, and even jumped up at cars which pulled over (which I hope was captured by IE on video). I had to tell him off a few times (which is what I’m doing in the photo alongside). Pedestrians spent a while chatting with us trying to figure out just what the hell was going on. Most people who spoke to us (whether from a car or fellow pedestrians) were wondering why so many of us seemed to want to walk our dogs together. Was it a cause? Was it a protest? Did we not know there was no dog there? (Our response was one of amazement to this last) Most people petted, played with or even yelled out compliments to our dogs as they passed by. Smiles galore. I remember one traffic light where all the drivers at the front were honked at coz they waited too long in listening to/watching us. TH variously named his dog among other things: “Seeme” and “Unflushable” (courtesy Coupling). His dog also kept running away from him, which people loved. And I really mean that, most people thought he was walking his dog very sincerely 😛
For our part, TH and I ensured that our dogs checked out most trees, hydrants on our route. We tried not to get into anyone’s way, didn’t let our dogs get too far away from us, and didn’t jump out at other pedestrians. Constant words of encouragement and petting was part of the game, one lady even told me off for not giving my dog enough treats! Our dogs hobnobbed a fair bit with other “dogs” walking around though. We tried not to take our dogs into stores – in the one comic book store I did take Tashi into, the owner was more than happy to let him in. She did try her best to figure out why I was so hellbent on walking him though 🙂 More than one store had quick-fix signs up welcoming dogs of “any kind and leashed”. Some put out bowls of invisible(!) water for the dogs and some had designated sitting areas for dogs. Starbucks had a field day disbursing water to us dog-walkers, and we promptly gave it to the dogs. Poor things were probably thirsty: it was a little hot and humid that day in Brooklyn 😀 Then of course Tashi pooped all over a traffic corner. I had to use invisible gloves, wet wipes and packets to get rid of it. Amidst suitable amounts of grumbling of course. Tashi had to be controlled around the sleeping dogs, the old dogs who were half-head, the seeing-eye dogs as well. Retrievers are more trouble than they are worth some times..
Only three incidents of violence did I see. One was in Starbucks, where I stopped to get a smoothie, while TH waited outside (can’t have Starbucks messed up!). A lady walked all over a “dog” without trying very hard, to loud laments from the owner. Invisible dogs are pretty sturdy though, even if prone to jumping on the furniture. Then there was the kid in the bookstore, who tried his best to trample on Tashi – who eventually took Krypto-like action. And finally there was the limo-driver who “ran” over a guy’s dog towards the end of it all. The owner lamented the loss of the dog pretty vocally on the street – the limo driver actually freaked and took off! People were grumbling vocally about calling the police even 🙂
Eventually, an hour or so of dog-walking later, it was time to return the “dogs” and wend our way home. ‘Twas a sad farewell indeed. TH and I reluctantly gave back our dogs, and headed back home. Most of us IE-ers were in the same train back and shared smiles and comments kept coming.
All-in-all, I’m guessing Brooklynites had fun watching us.
It was fun for us watching them anyway.
Take care, Tashi. You will be missed.