The rough and menacing look of Spike the English Bulldog is a marked contrast to the doll-like facial features of his master Raiza Contawi, a professional makeup artist. She could pass for a Korean schoolgirl.

The odd pair attended the United Bloggers event simultaneous with the Pet Show at the International Bazaar at the World Trade Center. Actually, Raiza, a petite and bubbly blogger, mans the yard sale and is one of the popular members of the blogger group. “Later, Spike and me will go to the Pet Show,” she says as she poses with her starstruck followers.

The millennial crowd enthusiastically rummages through the assorted cosmetics, makeup kits, and other beauty products displayed on a small table. Spike, whose fierce look is enough to frighten Raiza’s fans, is unmindful of the frenzy and giggly laughter of the youthful crowd. He lies down and sleeps. Spike is full of devotion and gentleness; much of it overflows in the multifold wrinkles of his skin. He is sporting a doggie costume for the pet show. It’s a dark brown sweater with a hood—with a smiling bulldog’s face, naturally. “I bought it in Korea,” Raiza says as her fans line up for a hug and photo op with her. To say she is a minor celebrity is an understatement.

This writer feels lucky that the popular blogger still found time to answer questions despite the busyness of the moment. She even apologized for the continuous interruptions due to her fans’ requests for selfies, groufies, and pleasantries.

“Spike is three years old. He is very gentle. I bought him from a friend. The puppies can range from 32-45 K,” says the 26 year-old commerce graduate, internal auditing major at Far Eastern University. Raiza is into beauty tutorials, product reviews, and beauty basics. This writer wonders if she can give Spike an instant noselift makeup.

According to dogtime.com, the bulldogs’ short noses make them prone to a number of respiratory ailments. Because of the size of their heads and fronts, bulldogs have difficulty giving birth. Most require Caesarians to deliver their puppies. It isn’t advised for inexperienced breeders to try to breed them.

Raiza’s English Bulldog, Spike, has an interesting historical background. His breed was used to drive cattle to market and to compete in a bloody sport called bullbaiting. Bullbaiting was a popular spectator sport in a time when there were no professional sports, TV shows, movies, or video games. The angry bull would toss the dog up in the air with its horns if it could, much to the delight of the watching crowd. (The Society of Prevention for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals will surely protest if it happens at this age and time.) The dog, on the other hand would attempt to latch onto the bull, usually at its snout, and pin it to the ground through the force of its painful bite. Upcoming bullbaitings were advertised and crowds wagered on the outcome of the struggle.

As this writer reminded her that 2018 is the Year of the Dog, Raiza shared, “I grew up with dogs—eight dogs actually. I hope that in this Year of the Dog, it will be a lucky year for me careerwise, and (for) Spike. I wish him good health.” She ends the short interview with a loud laugh, “Spike snores and farts. When I say ‘shower’ he sleeps!”

The fierce forefathers of Spike have evolved into the sweet, amiable, and affectionate English Bulldog, an excellent companion for Raiza, the beauty blogger and dog lover.

 

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s February 2018 issue.