WHEN SHABAKA Bambata decided he no longer wanted to be without a dog, there was no question of which breed he would get. ''I purchased Fela, an English bull terrier, as a puppy from a breeder in Mississippi,'' he says.
Fela is now 1 year old. His owner says he once raised the breed when he lived in California. ''My grandfather, in Tennessee, was a dog person who always had a large number of different breeds. I too have known most breeds, and I am a dog trainer. The English bull terrier is my choice because they are extremely loyal to their families, never a problem with adults or children and yet are protectors.
''Fela is a pleasure for my family, my wife, Bamideli, and our five children who live at home and range in age from 26 years old to 7 months,'' he says.
While Bambata, 49, describes Fela as spoiled, he says that ''a dog is a dog. Fela lives in the house and has complete run of it. He sleeps by my bed and I reach out and pet him often during the night. Or he may sleep by one of the children. His food is the best that money can buy, and he has the best of medical care and of our attention. But, he is not allowed on the beds, nor does he kiss on my face,'' says this head of family who gives one a sense that his is a very positive but also a very sensitive and kind authority.
The American Kennel Club and other breed information lists this breed simply as bull terrier and notes that it is a sweet and very trainable dog, strongly built, muscular, active and with much intelligence.
There are two varieties of bull terriers. The white is solid white although a marking on the head is accepted. Fela is a white variety. The colored must be any color other than white or any color with white so long as white does not predominate.
The breed dates back to 1835 and is believed to be a mating of the bulldog and English terrier, which is now extinct. Some believe some Spanish pointer was also introduced, and others say there is dalmatian in the breed.
It is similar to other English breedings of bulldog with terrier, which were fighting dogs such as the unregistered pit bull or the registered Staffordshire bull terrier. From that evolved the American Staffordshire terrier. All are broad and strong dogs and, except for bad breedings and bad owners, very reliable dogs.
In all breed information, Fela's breed, the bull terrier, is always noted as a friendly, affectionate dog that is utterly reliable with children and adults.
Shabaka Bambata says that in his household ''I have never had even the slightest sign that our Fela was anything but a charming and sweet one. He is a pleasure, not a worry.''
The name he has taken, Shabaka Bambata, he says, ''is that of a pharaoh from the 25th dynasty who was a good person and who unified upper and lower Egypt, giving tremendous benefits to his people. When we take on names we try to take on the same attributes of that person.''
Bambata says modestly in his deep and resonant voice, ''I am a vendor.'' He and his wife sell African and American art.
''The art we have is something which is difficult to obtain, I get it from a few sources we've established around the country. A lot of artists have brought this work together in the last three years. The popularity of black art has skyrocketed,'' he says.
Often the couple will take the entire family to expos and other events as far away as California. Their next trip is to Atlanta for the Black Expo being held there.
''We go where people are,'' he says.
His present business he established because his children grew up. ''I had a natural juice business where I wholesaled natural juices, and the children worked with me in selling. As they grew older and had more involvement, I had to find something I could do singularly,'' he says.