Picks and Pans Review: My Dog Tulip

updated 03/30/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/30/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

by J.R. Ackerley

What we have here is a first-class canineophile. Ackerley, editor of a BBC magazine, owned a female Alsatian (the British name for German shepherd) for 15 years and wrote this book in 1956. It was published to fine reviews, and perhaps this re-publication will give it the classic's status it deserves. Ackerley's affection for his dog was intense. In the beginning, he knew nothing about dogs, but he learned all there was to know about Tulip. No beautiful woman ever got a more glowing description from a lover: "Jet, too, are the rims of her amber eyes, as though heavily mascara'd, and the tiny mobile eyebrow tufts that are set like accents above them." There is a whole chapter on Tulip's toilet habits, around which Ackerley's life revolved. The business of trying to see to it that Tulip became a mother was difficult, funny, silly and ultimately poignant. Ackerley never forgot that Tulip was an animal. But her affection for him, her quickness, her dependence were more than appreciated. Ackerley, who died in 1967, was a polished writer, capable of saying about a human female, "when women have set their hearts on something, the wishes and convenience of others are apt to wear a flimsy look...." Feminists may have mixed feelings about that, but dog lovers—and admirers of quality British prose—will love this book. (Poseidon Press, paper, $7.95)

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