The distinguished British man of letters J. R. Ackerley hardly thought of himself as a dog lover when, well into middle age, he came into possession of a German shepherd. To his surprise, she turned out to be the love of his life, the “ideal friend” he had been searching for in vain for years. My Dog Tulip is a bittersweet retrospective account of their sixteen-year companionship, as well as a profound and subtle meditation on the strangeness that lies at the heart of all relationships. In vivid and sometimes startling detail, Ackerley tells of Tulip’s often erratic behavior and very canine tastes, and of his own fumbling but determined efforts to ensure for her an existence of perfect happiness.
Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s animated feature film of My Dog Tulip, starring Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, and Isabella Rossellini, was released in 2010.
I remain an amused admirer of My Dog Tulip, partly because J. R. Ackerley tried to deliver the thoroughly physical world that dogs inhabit. It’s anthropomorphism in reverse, albeit with a human (and very British) narrator.
—Gail Caldwell, The New York Times Book Review
This is one of the greatest masterpieces of animal literature.
— Christopher Isherwood
Out of print for years, Tulip, is now back to amaze, amuse, and somewhat dismay those lucky enough to receive her.
— Boston Globe
[Ackerley] aimed to shock, and his success was heightened by the soapbubble sparkle and lightness of his prose.
— The New Criterion
In its own quirky fashion, Ackerley’s wry valentine to his beloved pet is as much a book about the difficult art of living and loving as it is a dog story.
— Publishers Weekly
I love this book because it shows respect and profound understanding of the animal on its own terms.
— Armistead Maupin
This is the funniest, most poignant, and consider yourself warned preeminently disgusting of all the great dog books. First published in 1965, it portrays in the most affectionate terms what the dogless tend to consider outrageous transgressions.
— Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe
To dog lovers, by the way, I recommend My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley—by far the best “animal book” I’ve ever read.
— Julia Glass
One of the greatest books ever written by anybody in the world.
— Truman Capote