The Anna Nikstad Chronicles: Finding Kana

Words by Anna Nikstad

It was my first time visiting CWC in CamSur, Philippines. As an animal lover, I was mostly in shock at how many street dogs and cats there were and the amount of them that were in bad shape was heartbreaking. I quickly learned to keep cans of tuna or chicken in my backpack in case I came upon a little critter that desperately needed a meal. I fully cried a few times while driving on my motorbike through town…but I’m really emotional when it comes to animals so don’t mind, that, haha.

My adventure with Filipino dogs started quickly after I arrived to CWC. The first dog I took care of was a funny story, actually. He was a big old fury husky type mix that sat out in front of the 7/11 that’s down the road from the wake park. He was skinny and frail and I came to realize that he couldn’t use his back legs. I began feeding him every time I would pass by and soon he was comfortable with me. A few days into meeting ‘Moby’, as I had named him, I decided it was time to move him closer to me. So, I went to 7/11 one day with a towel and his favorite food. I fed him, then threw the towel over him and hoisted him over my shoulder. I paid a local tuk-tuk driver to bring us to my cabin at CWC where I took care of him for nearly two weeks. I got a vet out to him, gave him lots of flea and antibacterial baths, cooked him meals and did therapy walks to strengthen his back legs. This dog was killing it. Then one day, while sitting on my porch on the phone with my mom, Moby just gets up, walks off my porch and hobbles off. I was confused and thought maybe it was ‘his time to go’ because I know dogs do that sometimes. So I let him go. The next day I was curious of his whereabouts so I went for a cruise on my motorbike around the area. I turn the corner from the 7/11 and bingo! There’s Moby sitting in the front yard of this big concrete house. I start calling for him and he sees me but remains chilling in the grass. As I was about to get off my bike, and go pet on ‘Moby’ a man walked out of the concrete house and said “Hi, thats my dog shadow, you can pet him, he’s nice”. I responded with something inconspicuous like “oh how cute” and he said, “Yeah I’m glad he’s home, he ran off a couple weeks ago and I thought he was dead but he came home yesterday and he looks great!” I’m sure my face was so red as I tried to not burst into laughter after I realized I had actually stolen someones dog…

After this incident, I tried to refrain from kidnapping any random dogs or cats for awhile. However, a month goes by and a buddy of mine comes to CWC with this tiny puppy that he bought off some locals. He named her “naga” after the town he bought her from. This puppy soon became mine as all animals around me seem to do and once again I was taking care of another filipino doggo.

I became close with these two sisters from Australia, Taz & Becs, while at CWC and we came upon this little fluffy but dirty puppy that was tied up to the side of a motorbike shop down the road from the 7/11. This greasy little puppy was tied up to a small leash connected to the wall and she would bark whenever someone would approach the shop. I assumed her job was the doorbell. Taz & Becs were getting their bike worked on and asked if it was okay to take the puppy to the cable for the day. We found out that this little pup was given the name “Kena” which apparently is a slang word in Tigalog dialect for “white girl”. Very fitting. My southeast Texas accent pronounces it as ‘K-ANNA’

After a few days of taking ‘Kana’ we made the deal permanent and Kana became part of the CWC family. Growing up next to my other pup, Naga, they became best buddies. They both had such distinct personalities and were queens of the cable dogs. I wish I would have taken more photos and held on to their littleness. Once my trip was coming to an end, I searched around for someone to take in Kana & Naga, thinking I might not ever get to see them again so I wanted to make sure I found someone special. Thankfully, I found a sweet lady named Janice that wanted them both. She was a vet student and had a passion for animals so it seemed like a good match. When I left them with Janice, I was really sad. It just didn’t feel right leaving them.

Months go by and I keep in contact with Janice, getting weekly updates and photos of both dogs. I paid her a little month to month to help with expenses for her to be able to take care of my pups. After that, I was taking every opportunity I had to go back to the Philippines for wakeboarding but really I was going back for Kana & Naga. Haha! I would travel to CWC and live there for a few months in the beginning of the year and at the end of the wake season. I would film projects and work on my riding while having my two pups Kana & Naga with me the entire time. Sadly, on my third trip back to PH to ride and see the girls, Naga had puppies so I was only able to take Kana that time because I couldn’t take Naga away from her babies. However, I would go visit Naga and her puppies at Janices’ house every week.

Kana was quite the traveling dog. She would go everywhere with me. She would sit in front of me balancing on the gas tank of my motorbike, with her paws propped up on the handle bars and we would cruise through town, up mountains, to natural springs and beaches. She would go shopping with me at the mall, she went on boat rides and jipnee rides. She went with me and a group of my friends to stay the night on this tiny island on the bay of San Jose in the Philippines and she had that whole island mapped out. She guarded the boat while we snorkeled and dove with whale sharks. She is the most adventurous dog out there and has lived a bigger life than most humans I know.

On the 4th trip out to CWC, Janice’s boyfriend moved away and very much loved Naga, so he decided to take her with him in the move.

Now I was determined to bring Kana home. I ended up visiting CamSur, Philippines eight times before I was finally able to bring Kana home to America. The wait was well worth it. I finally found the route to take and got her cleared for take off. It has been exactly one year since her first arrival in America and I couldn’t be happier. To this day, taking Kana home has been my greatest achievement.

Anna Nikstad is a professional wakeboarder from southeast Texas. She noticed there's such a huge potential in the women’s side of the sport, so when she's not on the water, she puts her focus into pioneering women’s wakeboarding and encouraging other women to join and be a bigger part of the extreme sports community.

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