The story of how the Fullmer family came to rescue Capone the dog is somewhat unusual. After all, someone cruelly abandoned Capone on the side of a highway, and it was only thanks to a passing truck driver that he happened to be saved. However, little did the Fullmers know that Capone would one day rescue them in return.
Angela Fullmer lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband. Together, they have nine children and two dogs. In fact, the couple were delighted to welcome their ninth child into the family in December 2016.
Fullmer’s husband works as a truck driver and travels all around the U.S. However, one day in December 2015 he’d noticed something unusual during one of his shifts. There, on the side of the highway, was a little stray dog.
The sight broke the driver’s heart – so he decided to do something about it. Indeed, he piled the dog into his truck and drove him home to be with Fullmer and their children. And just like that, their family of 11 became a family of 12.
Fast-forward to March 2017, and Fullmer had even more on her plate. Firstly, she’d recently concluded her health care administration bachelor’s degree. Secondly, she was caring for her youngest baby, who was just three months old.
By this time, though, the family had discovered that their new dog was a mix of Whippet, Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher. They had also decided to call him Capone, and it hadn’t taken long for Capone to become part of the family. As a result, he soon grew very protective of the Fullmer’s nine children.
Capone was usually a well behaved dog, too, so Fullmer was shocked and angry when he woke her up at 1:30 a.m. one morning in March 2017. “Capone,” she yelled, according to USA Today. “Shut up! You’re going to wake the baby.”
However, Fullmer couldn’t seem to shut the dog up, so she called for him to come to her. When he did not appear, though, she began to panic. That’s because he had always responded to her calls ever since her husband had brought him home that fateful night.
At this point, Fullmer was extremely concerned. She therefore went to find Capone and watched as he continued to bark. She noticed that the dog seemed to keep returning to the kitchen door, and instinctively Fullmer knew that something wasn’t right. She decided to check what was happening in that room.
As Fullmer cracked open the kitchen door, she noticed a small fire; the plug from the family’s microwave had somehow caught light. She had used the appliance not long before to heat up a bedtime snack.
And although the fire was small, it was spreading quickly. Fullmer was at a loss as to what to do. But she knew not to throw water on an electrical fire, so instead she decided that she and her children would have to flee.
Fullmer subsequently ran to her sleeping children and scooped up her baby, Atreyu, and toddler, Mondecai. Then she called out to her oldest child, Landon, to help her rescue the others. Together, they rounded up the rest of the children: Alexander, Jadzia, Ronan, Inara, Mezoti and Khaleesi.
Miraculously, Fullmer was able to get all of her brood out of the house before flames began to consume the building. In fact, they were all safe before the fire alarm even went off. However, just to make sure, Fullmer performed a roll call. “We always do a roll call every time we get in the van,” she told USA Today. “They’re used to it.”
Knowing that all her children had escaped the blaze unscathed, Fullmer’s concerns now turned to Capone. Thankfully, he had evaded danger, too. Indeed, the dog had simply left the house of his own accord. “He saved himself,” Fullmer said.
Sadly, though, the family lost all of their possessions in the blaze. What’s more, smoke and water damage left their house uninhabitable, and they had to go live in a hotel. Even worse, their hero Capone couldn’t go with them.
Instead, some friends kindly agreed to take the dog in. However, the separation from his family made Capone so ill that he didn’t eat for three days. Then, when he returned to the Fullmers, he refused to leave baby Atreyu’s side.
Following the fire, then, the Fullmers purchased a new five-bedroom home. There, they’ll have enough room for everyone – and Capone will have a brand-new garden to play in where he’ll be safely fenced in.
Of course, the family will be forever indebted to their beloved dog. If it hadn’t been for Capone, after all, who knows when they would have learned about the fire? In the worst case scenario, it might have been too late for them all to escape.
The family are now keen to treat Capone like the hero he is. In fact, they’ve even entered him into the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. If he wins, Capone could feature in a Hallmark Channel special and win $5,000 for charity.
However, no matter what happens at the awards, the family are already winners. “[Capone] loves his family,” Fullmer gushed. “I’m glad we found him on the highway. I believe it was supposed to happen.”