When I tell you about my friend, Gayle Kaye, I am not exaggerating! Gayle is a multifaceted leading lady of our sport which she loves so dearly. Widely admired, her contributions have made an enormous impact on her favorite pastime—loving and preserving the history of the Collie breed.
For over 50 years as a member of the Collie Club of America, Gayle Kaye has been breeding Collies under her kennel name “Chelsea.” As a breeder, owner, and handler with a very limited breeding program, Chelsea Collies have produced multiple generations of champions:
- Ch. Chelsea Moon Pebble
- Ch. Chelsea Gold Mist
- Ch. Chelsea Ice Castles
- Ch. Chelsea Charidan Carte Blanc
- Ch. Chelsea Midsummer Classic
All of them garnered awards from Collie Club of America National Specialty shows.
In 2006, Gayle Kaye was recognized by the AKC to judge Collies. Seven years later, she was chosen by her peers to judge Best of Breed at the CCA National Specialty in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Earlier this month, she received her second CCA National assignment for the 2024 show to be held in Peoria, Illinois.
As a past officer of CCA, Gayle Kaye has served on numerous committees either as a chair or as a member, including Judge’s Education, Ethics, Archives, and AKC Breed Columnist, among others. She developed the club’s Register of Merit system, chairing that committee for a number of years. Gayle has edited or co-edited just about every CCA publication that has existed over the years. These have included the Dog Writers Association of America award-winning 1995 CCA Yearbook and the DWAA finalist, Volume 4 Library of Champions. In addition, Gayle edited and co-edited the club’s Bulletin and was co-editor of the CCA’s Parader book. Currently, Gayle serves on the Board of Directors of the Quarter Century Collie Group and is a member of the Quarter Century Collie Group and the Los Padres Collie Club.
In 2009, during Westminster week in New York, Dr. Carmen Battaglia announced at the DWAA’s Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony that award-winning author Gayle Kaye was the winner of the DWAA “Best in Show” for her book, The Collie in America. Kaye also authored the award-winning book, A Century of Collies. Gayle is also widely known for scores of articles she has contributed to all-breed magazines and Collie publications, including the CCA Bulletin.
Some years ago, Gayle Kaye authored a compelling story about a great contributor of Collie history, Dr. James McCain. I want to share it with you today.
The Amazing Story of Dr. James McCain and the Cainbrook Collies
By Gayle Kaye
“Dr. James Price McCain, along with his wife, Gertrude, owned the Cainbrooke Collies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. McCain’s story is especially remarkable because he was an African-American taking part in a sport dominated by white men and women in pre-Civil Rights America. He was a medical doctor in an era when few black people were going to college, let alone going on to become doctors. On top of that, he was a highly successful Collie breeder and exhibitor and one of the most popular judges of his time. By his own admission, he was always a dog fancier. However, thanks to the Albert Payson Terhune’s books, his love affair with Collies began in 1927 with the purchase of a pet tricolor male of Bellhaven breeding. Dr. McCain’s influence was profound and his overall contributions to the Collie breed were extraordinary!
Born in Rockingham, North Carolina, in 1892, Dr. James Price McCain, or “Doc” as his friends called him, was the son of a Methodist Minister, a former slave. His college education came at Livingstone College in North Carolina, getting his degree in 1913. He entered medical school at Howard University in Washington D.C. and graduated an MD in 1918. He interned at Freeman’s Hospital in Washington D.C. and began general medical practice in 1920. Think about that… this gentleman became a practicing medical doctor over 100 years ago! Though his wife, Gertrude, was very much a part of Cainbrooke Collies, almost nothing is known about her, unfortunately.
Considering the size of other large kennels during this time, Cainbrooke was an extremely small home operation. There were no fancy kennels or large exercise areas, so they were never able to keep more than three or four adults at a time. Altogether, Cainbrooke was the breeder of 20 champions, which was a lot for those days. The first champion finished in 1939 and the last one came in 1958. Because of space limitations, many of the champions were owned by other breeders. All were Roughs, and the sable color predominated. Wins came at all the large shows, including Westminster, Chicago International, Morris & Essex, and Collie Club of America. This was during a time when it wasn’t easy finishing champions. Unlike today, shows were few and far between and obstacles were tremendous, as this was in the days when distemper and other illnesses ravaged the lives and careers of so many dogs. And it must have been doubly difficult with a black man at the end of the lead, showing his own dog. He often became discouraged, but he persevered and ended up becoming an icon in the Collie breed.
The Cainbrooke breeding program began in earnest in 1932 with the purchase of Tazewell Tidiness from Dr. Bennett of Tazewell Collies fame. When in season, she was sent back to Tazewell to be bred to Ch. Cock Robin of Arken, an important Midwestern sire who lived in the shadow of his more famous brother, Ch. Future of Arken. The resulting litter of ten produced Cainbrooke’s foundation bitch, Corrogal Joan. Not only was “Joan” the start of Cainbrooke, but a litter sister, Halmaric Signet, went to Halmaric Collies and was their start in Collies! By 1936, the Cainbrooke breeding program was taking shape and it wasn’t long before their dogs and bitches began to attract national attention! They were becoming known for good heads, beautiful coats, and sound temperaments.
While Corrogal Joan did some minor winning in the show ring, shown by the good doctor himself, her true value would be in the whelping box. In 1937, when she was bred to the Alstead/Arken male, Royal Majesty II, it would produce a litter of ten that included the most famous Cainbrooke Collie of them all, Ch. Cainbrooke Clear Call, ROM. “Clear Call” would take the Collie world by storm!
She won three majors from the puppy classes, took time out for a litter, and went right back in the show ring and finished with a fourth major! Not only did she produce seven champions, she was the top-producing Collie bitch for almost twenty years. Her champions came from two different sires, in three different litters. Additionally, she was the dam of five other dogs or bitches who had either one or both majors. One bitch, Cainbrooke Cleopatra, died with 13 points!
From the beginning, Dr. James McCain believed in the importance of the bitch for laying the cornerstones of a breeding program and his kennel left its mark by coming up with many good-producing bitches.
Some of the more important ones were:
- Ch. Cainbrooke Miss Tazewell
- Ch. Cainbrooke Honey Chile
- Cainbrooke Chrissie
- Cainbrooke Crinoline
- Ch. Cainbrooke Creole Belle
- Cainbrooke Becky Star
Even though they were mostly known for their bitches, they also had a never-ending supply of good males, including:
- Ch. Cainbrooke Colonel
- Ch. Cainbrooke Mister Bones
- Ch. Cainbrooke Commandant
- Ch. Harline’s Son of Cainbrooke
- Ch. Cainbrooke Beau Ideal
Many of these males went to other breeders and were incorporated into their own breeding programs.
Cainbrooke was influential in the development of early Smooth bloodlines in this country. One such kennel was Pebble Ledge, which utilized several dogs and bitches of Cainbrooke lineage.
Cainbrooke even carried the white factor, thanks to frequent crosses to Lodestone Collies. An early white champion bitch, Ch. Vidale Portrait in White, was half Cainbrooke by virtue of her dam, Cainbrooke Christiana. Dr. James McCain was also the breeder of Cainbrooke’s Snow Image, whelped in 1943, sired by Lodestar of Lodestone x Cainbrooke Chrissie. In 1947, he became the first and only white male to ever win points at the National Specialty. Regrettably, he never finished his championship as he was hit and killed by a car shortly after the big win. No pictures are known to exist.
The Cainbrooke influence would be felt for generations to come, and a lot of their dogs and bitches remain in pedigrees throughout many of today’s top Collie families. Anyone who has Cul Mor, Arrowhill, Borco, Olympic, Pleasant Hill, Scotlyn, Ardenhill, Glen Hill, Glen Knolls, and Gaylord-Brandwyne has Cainbrooke in their pedigrees!
Dr. McCain considered himself, first and foremost, a “true” breeder, and he was especially interested in the care and raising of puppies. Everything he did was from a breeder’s perspective. An extremely gifted speaker and a prolific writer, he was full of sage advice and was always willing to share it. His articles appeared in most of the day’s top magazines, and several have become classics. “Conservation of Puppies” and “Sportsmanship” are two that come to mind.
From the opening paragraph of “Conservation of Puppies,” written in 1946:
“Some in the dog game are carried away and thrilled by the shouts of the multitude; they glory in the moment of victory and the applause which accompanies the same. Their supreme thought and fondest desire is to WIN and with this comes their utmost satisfaction. Your true breeder is not so concerned with all this; the tumult and the shouting means little to him. He gets his thrill and satisfaction in the whelping box; to him here is the crux of the whole matter, for this is the foundation and the whole building will depend on how well it is laid. For this reason, I am impelled to write on the ‘Conservation of Puppies.’ Breeders are doing a good job and breeding better ones, but the loss of good puppies is still too great, and in a great part, needless. First, I would say if you are not willing to pay the price in sweat, heartaches and tears… you have no place in the dog game as breeder, for it entails all this and more. “Eternal Vigilance”… this must be your watchword.”
“Conservation of Puppies” was so well received by the fancy that he soon wrote another article in 1947 on “Whelping Puppies.” Again, it was a resounding success. For him, the opening paragraph said it all:
“The whelping box is the Mecca for all breeders. At one time, if we are sincere breeders, we must all make the pilgrimage to this shrine. We have little choice. It is the center of our Orbit and we are mere Satellites. It is the center of all our hopes… and of our fears. It is the magnet that draws us, and in doing so contains all of our thoughts and wishes for years to come. The buying of dogs, as well as the showing of purebreds, may be fine and satisfactory to some… but your breeder… your true breeder is the one who plans, breeds, and then watches his plans materialize into real, livable animals. He, and only he, has the satisfaction of watching his dreams become realities.”
Instrumental in national breed club affairs, Dr. McCain joined the Collie Club of America in 1936 and served the club in many capacities. At the time of his death, he was a First Vice President. He authored and created a pamphlet for the club titled, “The Advantages of Collie Ownership.” He also authored articles on the flaws in the Breed Standard during a tumultuous time in club history when the Breed Standard was being revised.
Dr. James McCain was the first African-American to be licensed to judge by the AKC. This was quite an achievement for a man born the son of a slave! Today, it is easy to forget that during the time he was breeding and showing, blacks did not have the same rights as white people and yet he managed to not only survive—he flourished. By the late 1940s, he became an all-breed judge. Always popular and always in high demand, he judged from coast to coast.
In 1949, his greatest dream came true when he was selected to judge the Collie Club of America National Specialty in California. With an entry of 247, it was the largest National held up to that point, in the days when there was only one judge. At the show, he started the legendary Ch. Hazeljane’s Bright Future on to a record-setting four (4) consecutive Best of Breed wins. That night at the show banquet, when he was introduced to give a short speech, he received a standing ovation. His final judging assignment, Best in Show at the Buffalo Kennel Club show, came two weeks before his death in 1957!
This amazing gentleman wrote the following in a 1949 Collie Review article on his “Once in a Lifetime” experience of judging the National Specialty:
“The words ‘Iron Curtain’ may mean many things to many people. To a statesman, it might refer to the unknown political goings-on in that vast area known as the Russian sphere of influence. To average Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Citizen it can mean the mystery of what goes on in the dressing room before the main fight… or what the catcher is actually saying to the pitcher in the midst of a 9th inning rally… or what is REALLY happening behind the footlights of a play. To a Negro, the words ‘Iron Curtain’ might be a wall… a towering wall… a wall so deep you could not go under it if you tried; so high you could not possibly scale it; so wide you could not go around it. This wall is… prejudice.
I, Negro, was born behind that wall… or if you will, that ‘curtain.’ In time, because of constantly failing health, I wandered into the dog game as an outlet for my desire for clean, wholesome, good-natured athletic competition. The day I started with the dogs was the most fortunate day of my existence. I have learned through the years, and have come to realize with tremendous appreciation, that the dogs, as trite as it may seem to some, have brought me more pleasure and freedom than anything else in the world.
I have discovered to my amazement and pleasure that ‘dog-people’ have accepted me as a ‘friend’ in the true sense of the word. Dogs, odd as it may seem, have opened up doors for me that would have always been closed; by the magic of their influence, the oft-sneered-at word, ‘Democracy’ has taken on a real, lasting, beautiful meaning for me and my wife.”
Tragically, it all came to an end in 1957, at age 64; upon his death from metastasized stomach cancer (which he diagnosed himself). Chances are Dr. McCain would have been a successful breeder, exhibitor, and judge in any time period, but given the fact that he was so successful in an era when everything should have been against him—yet wasn’t—is clearly remarkable. Not only was he brilliant, he was an extraordinarily talented and kind man, way ahead of his time!”
In different times and eras, Gayle Kaye and Dr. James McCain made immeasurable contributions to the American Kennel Club and the sport of purebred dogs. James and Gertrude McCain accomplished their dreams. Gayle continues to amaze us with her incalculable achievements!