About Us

Dr. Nicole ("Nic") Prokopishyn and Elizabeth ("Leeza") Friedman-Prokopishyn both have an intense passion for pure-breed dogs.  The establishment of Bearspaw Finnish Lapphunds allows them to share their love of the breed with others.


Leeza and Nic are members in good standing of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), Finnish Kennel Club (FKC), the Southern Finnish Lapphund Society (SFLS - UK), the Alberta Kennel Club, and the Finnish Lapphund Club of Canada (FLCC). They are lifetime members of the Finnish Lapphund Club of Finland (Lappalaiskoirat Ry). Leeza served as the PR director for the Alberta Kennel Club starting in late 2015, and served as a member of the Board 2015-2017. She is currently working towards becoming a conformation judge. Leeza and Nic have attended Finnish Lapphund breed club meetings in 4 countries and dog shows in 4 countries.


Nic and Leeza work in healthcare. Nic completed a PhD in biochemistry for the University of Saskatchewan and is currently the director of a clinical cellular therapy lab. Leeza completed an undergraduate degree in Russian from Bryn Mawr College, and a masters in clinical social work (MSW) from Smith College. Leeza works as a mental health therapist with complex disorders using behavioural approaches.


In 2014, Leeza had the fantastic opportunity to handle a Finnish Lapphund at the World Dog Show in a presentation about the breed during groups (see photos above). The Lappy is a sable male (soopeli in Finnish), Fin Est Lv Ch Teelikamentten Lumiukko, owned by Minna Mielonen. Kiitos (thank you) to everyone for inviting a Canadian on stage to handle at WDS 2014!

About the Kennel

Bearspaw Kennel is a small kennel solely devoted to breeding and exhibiting pure-bred Finnish Lapphunds. The kennel is situated outside Calgary, where the dogs enjoy 4 acres to run and play. All our dogs reside in the household with us and not in a separate kennel facility.


We are dedicated to breeding Finnish Lapphunds which are of lovely temperament, sound structure, and superior health. We are committed to maintaining the breed as it is known and loved in Finland, while continuing to expand the gene pool here in a healthy and robust manner. We have imported several dogs from Finland and frozen semen from Finnish bred dogs in Finland, Holland, and the USA. We are passionate about educating others about the amazing personalities, health, genetics, and history of our Finnish Lapphunds. We were the first North American breeders to export back to Europe (Belgium), back to Finland, and the first Canadians to provide stud services outside North America (to Australia)


Dr. Nicole Prokopishyn and Leeza Friedman-Prokopishyn have been involved with the breed for 13 years. Dogs bred by us have completed many conformation, agility, rally-o, barn hunt titles.  Dogs owned by us or who carry our kennel name have qualified for Crufts 8 times, have placed at The World Dog Show, Westminster, Eukanuba US National Show, the Purina National (Canadian National Show), and in Finnish Lapphund national specialty shows in Canada. BIS NBISS MBVIS RBIS MBPIS Am Gr Ch Can Gr Ch Ex Bearspaw Sampo, RN, TT, HIC qualified for Crufts 2016 with a group placement at the Purina National, the first year one could qualify as a Canadian bred dog with a group placement. He is the first Canadian bred, owned, and handled BIS winner and the first Gr C|h Ex. With Shaunna Bernardin at the helm, he is also the first owner-handled NBISS in Canada. In 2018, we celebrated hosting past world winnder, Multi Ch Peikkovuoren Vahca in Canada, Lv Lt Ee Balt JrCh Balt JrW-18 Can Ch Peikkovuoren Muuska. Overseas, EeJW-18 JWW-18 Bearspaw Innovations So Fiery became a World Winnder.


Information on the fantastic adventures of our dogs in and out of the conformation and performance rings can be seen on the individual pages devoted to each dog.

About our Co-owners

We are pleased to co-own dogs with several wonderful people.  The majority of dogs on the "home team", who are shown by us, have their own pages. Lappies residing further away and shown by others can be found under "Bred by". We are proud to have many Lappies co-owned by us, or bred by us and loved by others, that may play a role in the future of our Bearspaw.

Co-Owned Dogs and Co-owners


BIS RBIS MBPIS Am & Can Gr Ch Bearspaw Sampo, HIC, "Odin"

Shaunna Bernardin became a co-owner of "Oddie" in 2014, which reflects the special role she has had in Odin's life since he was a puppy. We always say that Odin has little starts in his eyes" when he looks at Shaunna.  They have always had a very special bond with her. Shaunna started showing her Odin when he was 6 months old and handled him until her retirement as a professional handler.  He visits Shaunna for frequent grooming.  Shaunna is one of Odin's biggest supporters, and will always be a very special person on "Team Odin." Odin continues to live with the Prokopishyns, and visits Shaunna often.


Can Ch Bearspaw Tapio, "James"

Catreena Woodbeck. Cat is a groomer, who developed a love of the breed after grooming our dogs. She provides a fantastic home for James, which James shares with a Pomeranian and Cocker mix named Lucas.


Group Placing, Can CH Bearspaw Veikka Taivaskero, "Zaidee"

Dr. Kevin Schulz, DVM. Kevin is a small animal vet, who serves on various vet committees in order to improve the health and well being of companion animals. "Zaidee" is well loved by her family.


Am Can Ch Bearspaw Veikka Makalu, "Karhu"

Michelle McLean (Bergen). Karhu is well loved by his entire family. He is an expert in off leash walking and is shown in conformation (by Nic & Leeza) and agility.


BPIG Can Ch Bearspaw Kultakanta, "Foxy"

Shaunna Bernardin became a co-owner with us of Foxy in 2017.


BBPIG Bearspaw Fame of Owenbriar, "Fame"

Linda Owens. Fame is a new addition to the small population of show Finnish Lapphunds east of the Canadian prairies.  Linda breeds and exhibits Keeshonden under the kennel name, Owenbriar. Linda has been breeding for decades. Watch for Fame in the rings out east!


Bearspaw Kettukarkki O' the Sea HT, TKN, CTL-1-H, "Rowan"

Mary Davidson and Lynn Baker. "Rowan" is a new addition to the small population of Finnish Lapphunds in New England. Mary has bred and exhibited Leonbergers under the kennel name, Leos by the Sea, for decades. Lynn is very experienced in agility, Search and Rescue, and Obedience. Watch for "Rowan" our east in some combination of conformation, performance, and possibly SAR.


MBPIG Group Placing Can Ch Peikkovuoren Wando of BP, "Teddy"

Taina Friman (Miettinen), Dr. Etienne Mahe, and Shaunna Bernardin. Peikkovuoren Wando of BP is an exciting Finnish import out of Multi Ch Peikkovuoren Wanda and Lecibsin Suoritus. Taina Miettinen has been involved with breeding and exhibiting Finnish Lapphunds in conformation, obedience, and working trials since 1989. Taina is an internationally recognised breeder and exhibitor of Finnish Lapphunds. Teddy resides with Ettiene Mahe, his wife, Laura, and their two daughters. They are long time friends and colleagues, and we are thrilled to have them be part of the Peikkovuoren and Bearspaw families. We were so pleased to have Shaunna join team Teddy as well, with the second Lappy she co-owns with us.


Bearspaw 2Good2Share My Rolo, "Yuni"

Yuni is co-owned with Katja Pettinen and Ada Jaarsma. Yuni has a fantastic, active life, including frequent hikes in the mountains. Watch for him in the show ring and the hiking trail.


Bearspaw Luvu2Pieces Reeses, "Reese"

Dr. Kevin Schulz, DVM. Kevin is a small animal vet, who serves on various vet committees in order to improve the health and well being of companion animals. "Reese" shares a home with her mother, "Zaidee," Kevin and his family, horses, and other farm animals.


Bearspaw Baby I'm a Star, "Ihana"

Ihana is co-owned with Sandra and Steven Miller (Chinarose Chows). Sandra and Steven bred and exhibited Chows for years. Steven is an AKC judge for Chows, and has judged specialty shows. "Ihana" resides with "Onni," Bearspaw Take a Chance on Me." Ihana and Onni inspire some of Sandra's beautifully designed art.


Bearspaw Innovation So Zesty, "Sulo"

Sulo is co-owned with Kristiina Ovaska and her family. Sulo enjoys a fantastic home, and is training for a variety of conformation and performance activities.


Bearspaw Innovation So Fiery, "Merkki"

Merkki is co-owned with Taina Meittinen (now Friman) of Peikkovuoren Kennel in Finland. Merkki is the first North American bred dog to return to Finland. Taina's current and past dogs and her breeding ideas are behind Merkki's pedigree.


Peikkovuoren Peski, "Peski"

Peski is co-owned with his breeder, Taina Meittinen (now Friman), and Danie Madore. Peski came to the Bearspaw family and back to the Peikkovuoren family as an adult. Peski became the first Canadian owned/co-owned Finnish Lapphund to compete at Finnish dog shows.


All material is copyright protected and may not be reproduced in any form (full or in part) without written permission from Bearspaw Kennel, CKC Registered. All rights reserved. Site was designed and is maintained by Leeza Friedman-Prokopishyn, Leeza@bearspawlappies.ca. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by NIcole Prokopishyn. © 2013-2017.