WOOFSTOCK Cover Dog Contest Winner: “MINKER THE STINKER” The little Dog Who Leads His Family on Big Adventures

Story by Emily Dieckman, Photos Provided by Candice Eaton & Erika Plante
Erika Plante was devastated when her Pitbull, Lucian, passed away in October 2019. She’d had him for 10 years, and he’d always reminded her of that quote from The Titanic, about how he’d saved her in every way a person can be saved.
She and her husband, David Quintero, started looking for a new dog soon after losing Lucian. They’d both grown up with big dogs and had had them ever since, so they set out to find another, but were discouraged when a dog they’d wanted to meet fell through. Then Quintero saw a photo of a dog up for adoption through At Home Fur Good, a rescue in Phoenix, where they lived at the time. Minker the Stinker was a 10-lb chihuahua mix in need of a forever home. Nothing like what they thought they wanted, but, they realized to their surprise, exactly what they needed.
“We saw his face, and we saw those ears, and we could just tell there was so much more to this little guy,” Plante says. “We messaged them right away, and we went the very next day to go see him.”
Minker’s description had said he’d do best in a home with a single woman, so they were nervous about how Minker would react to Quintero when they visited. They sat in the dirt and waited, and within minutes, Minker was running up to Quintero. Later that night, he was sleeping in Quintero’s lap.
“He was like Jell-O pudding,” Quintero says.
Their family bond grew fast. On their second weekend together as a family, the three took a staycation at a dog-friendly hotel. Minker was so excited he didn’t know what to do with himself, happily sniffing and laying on every surface he could find. But when they took him to get his very own “pupcake,” they could tell he’d never had anything quite like it. Minker’s eyes grew watery, something they didn’t even know was possible.
“Seeing him literally tear up? I‘m tearing up thinking about it,” Plante says. “That was the day I was like, ‘I think he feels safe, you know?… This is our boy.’”
Minker had been at the rescue for nearly three years and had been taken home several times only to be returned. Once, he was returned after less than 24 hours. In the early days, Plante and Quintero could tell he’d had some trauma in his past, as he’d often hide under furniture, and occasionally nip. But they were patient, communicating with him every step of the way. When Minker reacted poorly to being picked up, they learned to be slow and clear about their intentions: “I’m going to pick you up now, okay, Minker?”
When he struggled with severe separation anxiety, they took it one step at a time, first leaving the house and sitting right outside the door for only a few minutes before coming back in. From there, they worked up slowly to longer trips out. (These days, Minker is so secure that he can’t even be bothered to come out from under his blanket when his parents come home.)
He only ever bit once. It was in the first few weeks of being home, and he’d gone to hide under the entertainment center. Without thinking, Plante tried to pull him out, and Minker panicked. Plante wasn’t angry. Rather, she felt terrible for crossing a boundary, making Minker feel cornered and grabbing him without communicating.
“Instead of coming up to him, I sat across the living room and just tossed him treats and apologized with each one,” she says. “We literally sat like that for four hours. I was like, ‘Dude, I’m gonna earn your trust back.’”
She certainly did.
Minker has come out of his shell (and, when he’s in the mood, his blanket) in his new home. His Instagram page, @minkerthestinker, has nearly 2,000 followers, and Plante is sure to read the comments out loud to Minker so he knows how much everyone loves him. He’s even landed some brand deals with companies, who reached out asking Minker to model their products. When people ask Plante for tips on how she gets her dog to pose so well for photos, she has no answer: She just picks up her camera and Minker goes into glamour mode.
He’s gone from hiding under the bed to leaping across creeks on hikes, and from being hesitant about any human touch to expectantly waiting for Plante to put on his bandana of choice every morning. His owners are his biggest advocates, and they say Minker has changed their lives for the better, too. They moved from Phoenix to Tucson in part because they wanted to give Minker a better life, in an area with more nature. Plante doesn’t want him to miss out on anything and has dozens of hikes bookmarked on her phone so that there’s always a new adventure ahead.
“He’s happier, and we are healthier because of him,” Plante says. “I was overweight and unhealthy, wouldn’t leave the house. And now because of him, we’ve done things and seen parts of Arizona that we –and I’ve lived in Arizona 20+ years—had never seen, because he’s encouraged us to get out and be happier. So, in the same way, we got him out of a shelter, he definitely got us out of our shelter too.”
Photo Prorvided by Candice Eaton Capturing EveryBuddy Photography
They say the whole family is loving the Tucson area and the local animal lover community, so entering Minker into the Tucson Dog Cover Dog contest made perfect sense. Plante says that, of the 30,000 or so photos on her phone, most of them are of Minker. So it seemed only fair to share some of his good looks and spunky personality with the world.
“We just want to make sure that everyone knows that small dogs can have big adventures,” Plante says.
“And,” Quintero adds, “have big hearts.”



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