Thursday, May. 23, 2024

Meet Toga The Devon Woodchuck

Some people have Jack Russells at horse shows. Others bring corgis. The Antoniadis family has a different animal in tow.
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Devon, Pa.—May 28

Some people bring Jack Russells to horse shows, others prefer Corgis. But the Antoniadis family has a different animal in tow at Devon.

Denis Antoniadis and her daughters, pony riders Alliya and Kierstin, saw a small, flat woodchuck in the middle of the road last week while they were at the Saratoga Horse Show (N.Y.) so they pulled over to move him out of the road. But when they got there they saw he hadn’t been hit or paralyzed as they originally feared, he was just extremely dehydrated.

“We think he was abandoned by his mother and he came out looking for food,” said Denise, who runs AKA Showstoppers out of Montgomery, N.Y. 

They picked up the month-old fellow and nursed him back to health, feeding him kitten replacement formula (he also really likes watermelon). He quickly figured out life as horse show woodchuck. The Atoniadis dogs, both male, play with “Toga” and mother him. He quickly got the hang of a litter box and hanging out in the cat carrier when he’s not supervised, and, unsurprisingly, he loves to knaw on wood. 

“He basically has two modes: he’s either running around and eating things or sleeping,” said Kierstin.

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Kierstin and Alliyah Atoniadis with Toga the woodchuck. Photo by Mollie Bailey

At Saratoga Kierstin’s trainer Gary Duffy joked that his student was more interested in her new friend than her pony Sportin’ Around, who’s competing here in the medium division. Alliya’s here to cheer on her pony Broadway’s Puzzle Piece, who will be competing in the pony jumpers with Nadia Rosenbaum, and whose earnings are being donated to Autism Speaks. Alliya trains with BJ Ehrhardt.

Devon marks Toga’s second horse show, and he’ll head to HITS Saugerties (N.Y.) to continue his Zone 2 tour next.  

Follow along with the Chronicle for lots more from Devon.

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