The black crossbreed was a tiny pooch, who was rarely rowdy. But this time, he simply wouldn’t shut up. He kept running around barking constantly. She noticed he was going back and forth between herself and the dark open area of the house. A part of her wanted to thank him for totally disrupting her otherwise silent night. But she had no idea how fateful the evening would turn out.
The 32-year-old mother only had to worry about tucking her middle kids into their beds. The older kids had already turned in for the night. Now, all she had to do was put her toddler and newborn to sleep before she could lay her weary body to rest in bed. But this cold evening was about to take an unusual twist that she simply couldn’t ignore any longer.
It was a full house inside the Fullmer residence. 32-year-old Angela had to contend with Landon, 12, Alexander, 10, Jadzia, 9, Ronan, 7, Inara, 6, Mezoti, 5, Khaleesi, 3, Mordecai, 20 months, and Atreyu, now 5 months. The kids’ dad, Isaac Fullmer, works as a full-time long-distance truck driver. Since he’s on the road all the time, Angela has to manage the kids all by herself.
Being a great dad isn’t something you’re born with. It’s the kind of thing you learn, and it requires patience, generosity, and a whole lot of loving. But there’s one thing you can’t get around and that’s spending time with your kids. But when you’re the main breadwinner, you have to go out and make certain sacrifices, and that’s when you need a partner who can be there for the kids when you can’t be.
Angela’s long day started by driving her kids to different schools, and eventually picking them up. In between that time, she heads back to the “stay at homers” as she affectionally calls her 4 youngest kids. Then she studies to finish her 4-year degree at Mercy College of Health Sciences in Student Affairs. Angela and Isaac did their best for the well-being of their family.
Angela was doing her best to juggle everything while her husband was away. Being a mom and a college student was tough, but she handled it like a boss. Her kids never felt alone because they had a supermom on the job. Angela made sure she had everything covered, including the bedtime routines. But there are some things that can’t be predicted.
A year ago, Isaac noticed that Capone was roaming around the highway and was in danger of being hit by passing cars. He stopped the truck and grabbed the dog and headed home to introduce his family. The poor dog was hungry and alone, and he didn’t have a collar or a chip. Isaac had no idea who the dog belonged to.
Having a pooch around the house can reduce stress for everyone at home and even improve children’s self-esteem. But one of the most obvious benefits is the fact that they can ease loneliness, especially when kids have parents who work long hours or is rarely home because of their job. This was probably why Isaac brought Capone home.
They say dogs have a sixth sense, but it’s safe to say that certain senses are more heightened than humans, particularly their sense of hearing and smell. Dogs are about as intelligent as they are loyal and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep their human family safe.
Capone couldn’t have been older than two, which made him pretty young. He also had 9 human children he could play with. It was like a dog’s dream come true. As time passed, he bonded with his new family, and he loved each and every one of them, particularly, Alexander. He knew the boy had a disability, and he loved him and protected him.
Everyone had gone to bed after being fed and bathed. This routine day was finally over, and Angela had put her baby down and then drifted off to sleep too. But then, Capone started barking. He wouldn’t stop, so Angela got upset and told him to hush before he woke up Mordecai and Atreyu, but Capone didn’t listen. He continued barking and started running in and out of her bedroom. Angela was alone, with only the kids in the house. So, she got worried.
She wearily got up to see what was making her dog so upset. She hoped it was a raccoon, instead of a burglar. Most of her kids were sound asleep upstairs, while Angela was on the ground floor. This was her parent’s old home, which she and her hubby were renting while saving money to get a more permanent home. She walked on tip-toes while wondering why her dog was behaving so oddly.
Capone kept running around the house and then heading back to Angela. It was as if he was trying to tell her something. As she walked through the hallway, she noticed he was running back and forth from the kitchen. The house was dark, but there was what appeared to be a flickering candle somewhere in the kitchen, which she found strange. She had a feeling in the pit of her stomach even as she turned the corner to take a closer look.
The smoke alarm shrieked almost immediately after she noticed the microwave’s plug bursting into flames. It was small at first, but in the blink of an eye, the fire exploded and reached the ceiling. Angela immediately grabbed her two set of car keys on the wall and ran. “There was about 10 seconds I thought I could put it out then it suddenly rushed to the ceiling so I knew we had to get everyone out instead.” She had to save her kids before it was too late.
She ran up the stairs yelling to Landon to get the older kids ready. But she had to shake him to wake him up. The eldest of nine jumped into action and rounded up his other brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, Angela ran downstairs to help get the little ones out of bed. But was it too late to escape?
Waking up to a house fire that’s devouring your home can paralyze you with fear. But taking certain steps during the fire can easily increase your chances of surviving. But did Angela have enough time to make her way out of there? That was a question even she couldn’t answer.
It didn’t take Angela 5 minutes to get her entire family out of the burning home. The Fullmers were safe and in their car doing a head count to make sure everyone was there. Then they watched with heavy hearts as the flames engulfed their parents and grandparents’ home. Smoke seeped through the doorways, the windows, and the cracks on the wall. By the time firefighters arrived, it was too late to save the home.
The family watched helplessly as everything they owned went up in smoke. Thankfully, they were all safe, or so they thought. Where were they going to stay? Where would they sleep? Was there a place in the city that could take in this family of 11?
Water and fire damage had left them homeless. Thankfully, Isaac’s aunt setup a GoFundMe page. With the help of the community, they received all sorts of items, including clothing and money. Meanwhile, the family went to a hotel room, which didn’t allow dogs. This meant Capone couldn’t join them, even after they found two apartments that was roomy enough for the entire family.
The family was now ready to move into a more permanent residence. The house was big, which meant every member of the Fullmer clan could fit comfortably. Plus, it had a fenced yard so Capone, the black Lassie that loved his family could play in. It’s a good thing too because the pooch struggled when he was away from the kids. He didn’t eat much, and he roamed around a family friend’s house aimlessly as he wondered what happened.
Capone had a special bond with Alexander. He used to sleep at the foot of his bed, which is exactly what he started doing again as soon as he was reunited with his family. He also didn’t leave the baby’s side on the blanket as she ate. He was determined to watch over this little one like the awesome protector he was.
Angela didn’t really give it much thought when a friend suggested Capone should get nominated for the American Humane Hero Dog Award. But she realized it was a great way to honor the pooch. Dogs from across the nation were nominated in seven categories: law enforcement/arson, emerging hero, guide/hearing, military, search and rescue, service and therapy. Capone got a ton of votes and eventually became a semi-finalist. His biggest competition was a chocolate lab mix.
It wasn’t Angela Fullmer’s idea to enter Capone into the award, but she knew he certainly deserved it for saving the family. “The fire alarm didn’t go off for the first couple when the fire was already a good way through the kitchen and dining room. If Capone had not barked and insisted I listen to him it would have been so much less time to get everyone out. But everyone got out. Even the dogs. And today is poor Landon’s birthday but the kind firefighter saved his new birthday iPod.”
The dog had managed to rescue 10 human lives, plus his own. It was the ultimate thank you for the fact that Isaac had rescued him from the highway. Now he has everything a dog could hope for —a family who adores him, and children who love playing with him. He may never appreciate how famous he got after his heroic deeds went viral on line, but his family definitely appreciates this special pooch.
“He means a lot to us because he saved our lives. He barked probably a couple minutes before the smoke alarms even went off and the whole downstairs was gone within five minutes and four of us were sleeping downstairs. So it would have been a lot more detrimental if it hadn’t been for Capone,” said Angela Fullmer.