Story by MATILYN MORTENSEN • Photos by MATT HERP • Standard-Examiner Staff
OGDEN — When she retired about 13 years ago, Linda Weiskopf busied herself with biking, yoga and other activities she hadn’t had time for during her 37 years of work at the IRS.
Those activities filled the first three years of her retirement. Although she was in great shape physically, the pastimes felt empty to Weiskopf, leading her to begin searching for something with more purpose.
“I have a slogan that you do things that benefit you and others, so I was looking for what that thing was going to be,” Weiskopf said.
Five years earlier, Weiskopf had met a woman raising a puppy for Canine Companions for Independence. The nonprofit organization provides assistance dogs, free of charge, to individuals with a variety of physical disabilities.
Although Weiskopf thought that was a nice thing, she didn’t think she could raise a puppy. But after searching for a meaningful activity, Weiskopf and her husband, David Weiskopf, decided they would give it a try.
Canine Companion puppy raisers take care of a puppy from the time it is 8 weeks old until it is 1 1/2. Then the dogs go onto “puppy college,” where they are trained to be assistance dogs.
It has been 11 years since the couple raised their first puppy. Currently, they are raising their ninth.
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In addition to a love for dogs, Weiskopf has always had a passion for gardening. Sometime after she retired, she developed an interest in heirloom tomato seeds.
“Some people buy shoes, I buy seeds,” Weiskopf said. “ I love all the unique varieties.”
Weiskopf originally grew the plants in her basement, but there just wasn’t enough space for all of the varieties she had collected. She would give plants to friends, but then she decided to sell her surplus as a fundraiser for Canine Companions.
Still, Wieskopf had plants left over.
To solve the problem, a fellow puppy raiser helped connect Weiskopf with someone who was willing to loan her land for growing her plants.