While every owner thinks their dog is the greatest, most dogs would be hard pressed to measure up to a fluffy, snow-white, purebred Samoyed named Rex.

Rex, AKA Rex of White Way, the Blizzard King, lived from 1946 to 1957, spending his years saving lives and setting records. He was involved in more than 30 human rescues, most famously his work leading a team of dogs from Truckee to a stranded train on Yuba Pass, according to Jim Cheskawich, author of The Story of Rex of White Way, The Blizzard King. The pack delivered a doctor and medical supplies from Truckee when rescue trains, snowcats, and helicopters all failed to reach the train.

Rex, like most Samoyeds, was bred to be a working dog, a tradition carried on for 3,000 years by Arctic communities. But after a few months of life, he was nearly rejected from his owners’ breeding program as he was considered too tall, his coat too short, and his legs too gangly to be of quality. Later, after becoming the standout Samoyed of his generation, the standards for Samoyed breeding were changed based on his dimensions and traits. It’s now believed that most Samoyeds in the United States can be traced genetically to Rex, according to Tahoe author Mark McLaughlin’s website thestormking.com.


Rex led the playboy dog lifestyle. He hung out on movie sets with John Wayne, won numerous sled races, set world records for weight pulling for all breeds, strutted his style at dog shows, and delivered mail as part of the U.S. Postal Service’s mail team, all the while racking up a multitude of rescues, including saving crash victims from Truckee’s airfield.

Rex may have even jumped out of planes, strapped with a parachute for a short-lived military dog-rescue program, but no one is certain if Rex made any jumps, according to Cheskawich.

Rex weighed between 62 and 70 pounds as an adult, on the small side for a Samoyed. Reportedly, when asked how he pulled it off, an observer remarked: “He is 5 pounds of bones and hair, and the rest is all heart.”

Cheskawich is also working on a Rex of White Way Memorial Library and Museum to be located in either San Franciso, Sacramento, or Truckee.

Read our Feel Good story on Arthur for more tales of intrepid canines, here.


  • Dave Zook

    Dave Zook has been aiming to turn interests in outdoor activities like snowboarding and surfing into a professional endeavor for quite some time. He is elated to be writing and editing for Moonshine Ink and still have time to explore the ample offerings of the Sierra.

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