The Story of Rex of White Way is a touching must-read book for any animal-lover. It is impossible to read about Rex and not fall totally in love with this strong, gorgeous and courageous Samoyed. The Story of Rex beautifully walks the line between being a story of a man and his dog, a diary of dog-sledding and a history of the Samoyed dog breed in America. There are moments it reads like a historical detail of the breed but it isn’t tedious or boring.
As the story unfolds the reader is treated to the history of the Samoyed (Rex is actually one of the first Samoyed’s bred in America) and the history of Rex. Rex was trained as a sled dog but took part not just in sled races but in rescue missions and service duty as well. It is beyond impressive to read about the adventures and rescues this beautiful dog led. Nicknamed, “The Blizzard King” because of his ability to lead a pack or sled through even the worst of weather, Rex is a canine hero beyond words. He led simple missions such as delivering mail through blizzards and led rescue missions which resulted in saving the lives of people who were facing certain death. In 1952 Rex led one of the most notable missions of his life; he led the team which rescued an abandoned streamliner which had been trapped in a massive blizzard. The actions of this brave canine saved the lives of 226 people. You can’t help but read these stories without a warmth in your heart and a tear in your eye.
Overall, as a lead sled dog Rex was involved in over 30 human rescue missions in the Sierra Mountains, pulled out downed planes, delivered a doctor to trapped passengers, set various world records and won multiple races. This Samoyed was beyond impressive. It was such a pleasure to read about his exploits and successes! Oh, and let’s not forget he was also involved with John Wayne in “Island in the Sky.” Is there anything this dog couldn’t do?
This book also describes the relationship between Rex and his trainer, Lloyd Van Sickle. It is always touching to read about the relationships between people and their animals. I have two dogs myself so I found the portions of the story relating to the two of them so heartwarming and joyful. Throughout the book there are photos of Rex leading his team, on missions, and with Lloyd. I love when pictures are included in memoirs, autobiographies and biographies. They really help to bring the story and the people (or, as in this case, the canines) to life.
This book was such a pleasure! The end however, was heartbreaking. Rex passed away in 1957 and it was so hard to read about his passing. His story was so powerful that I didn’t want to accept that the world is less one more amazing creature, although I knew it was inevitable. There is comfort in one of the author’s final notes where Cheskawich notes, “Rex’s spirit and bloodline lives in nearly every Samoyed alive today in the United States.” This book was almost enough to make me want to go out and bring home a fluffy regal Samoyed puppy just so I could own a piece of this incredible dog.
Ashley LaMarClosed the Cover