Cooper: The Making of a Service Dog by Clyde Hoch

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Clyde Hoch spends much of his life helping veterans, particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder. He sees using a service dog as one of the better ways to cope with PTSD. “Many times,” he says, “I’ve heard from veterans, ‘If it were not for my service dog, I wouldn’t be alive today.’” He knows whereof he speaks.

A Marine tank commander in the Vietnam War in 1968-69, Clyde Hoch was severely injured by a mine that destroyed his vehicle. After coming home, he found that he could not fit into society. Eventually, he learned that he had PTSD, as well as Traumatic Brain Injury. Much later—with encouragement from a therapist and guidance from dog instructors—he bought Cooper, a Doberman Pinscher puppy, and spent a year qualifying him as a service dog.

In his latest book, Cooper: The Making of a Service Dog (100 pp. $8.95, paper) Hoch presents a strong argument for the adage that “a dog is man’s best friend.” The book covers almost three years of their relationship and Cooper’s training. “You build a bond with your dog like no other on earth,” Hoch writes of his one-hundred pound service dog.

The book is interesting because it discusses reducing the effects of war-induced emotional problems in everyday terms. Cooper, Hoch tells us, provides controls that he lacks. Best of all, he softens Hoch’s temper. For example, when Hoch displays road rage, Cooper rests his head on his shoulder to defuse the situation. Cooper also provides extra eyes and ears, lessening Hoch’s reactions to night noises. Cooper also takes the edge off Hoch’s tendency to be hyper-vigilant when he is in crowded places.

“He knows your mood and you know his,” Hoch says. “When I get angry or frustrated, he knows it and comes to me without my telling him to.”

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Clyde Hoch in-country

Hoch repeatedly emphasizes the etiquette of service dog recognition. When wearing an identification vest, a service dog is off-limits to interactions with strangers, including petting. The dog knows this, but most strangers do not. Without the vest, the dog becomes a pet and acts accordingly.

Clyde Hoch performs volunteer work for veterans in many ways. He organized the Veterans Brotherhood, which takes homeless veterans off the street when they are at their lowest. He donates profits from this and his lengthy list of other books to veterans’ organizations and schools.

The long-time VVA member also is well known as a guest speaker in Eastern Pennsylvania where lives.

Clyde Hoch’s website is clydehoch.com

—Henry Zeybel

God Help Me! Cause No One Else Will by Clyde Hoch

Clyde Hoch, a former U.S. Marine Sergeant and a member of Vietnam.Veterans of America, has written six books. His latest is God Help Me! Cause No One Else Will (CreateSpace, 34 pp., $5.38).

This self-help tract is dedicated to veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. In a perfect world, this informative work would be in the hands of every Vietnam veteran, military family member, and every professional working with returned veterans and active-duty personnel.

Hoch, who volunteered for duty in a tank battalion, arrived in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet offensive. “I was an old guy,” he writes. “I was around 21 years old. Most of the guys were 18 or 19. They would come to me for advice about everything. I didn’t know much more than they did. At times I felt like a father and priest to these guys.”

Hoch’s value as leader and counselor easily could have qualified him to be a Drill.Sergeant or an officer candidate were it not for a land mine explosion. Because of the resultant Traumatic Brain Injury and difficulties with memory Hoch opted to end his career as a Marine .

His return to life as a civilian came before there was widespread recognition of PTSD as a war-related affliction. “There was no.such thing as PTSD or TBI,” he writes. “I became very aggressive with people, especially my wife. I took much out on her and my children. I regret all, but can’t do anything about it now. My attitude was very hard for all of us. I set up an appointment with the VA to.see if anyone could help me.”

Hoch filed PTSD and Agent Orange VA claims. “The service officer filed all of these forms,” he writes. “All came back rejected.” Further appeals were dismissed by doctors and lawyers.

Finally, after more than twenty years, Hoch began to offer advice and assistance to other veterans, something reminiscent of his relationship with his fellow tankers back in 1968.

In this book he provides important contact information for those in need.

“Do Not Give Up,” Hoch advises. “When I feel myself getting angry at a situation or person, I have learned to.walk away. I will.go outside. If I am where there are lots of people I observe them. I will wonder about their lives. Everyone you see is fighting something. If all else fails and you feel all alone and feel no one cares, contact me. I will do what I can for you.”

You can contact Clyde Hoch through his website, www.clydehoch.com

—Curt Nelson

hochclyde@yahoo.com.