Betty’s “boop” provides safety, security for Pantex engineer
Pantexan Claire Streeter is open to educating people about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs like her standard poodle, Betty.
Pantex safety analysis engineer Claire Streeter has her own emergency alert system: A white standard poodle named Betty. Betty is a full-time service dog with a vital mission: Keep her person safe.
“Her job is truly just to monitor my blood sugar levels for my diabetes. She’s trained to boop her nose on my leg to get my attention,” said Streeter.
When Betty “boops,” Streeter puts a hand in front of Betty’s nose for a reading. Betty pushes Streeter’s hand up to indicate high blood sugar levels and down for low levels. Without this vital notification, Streeter could pass out or experience long-term damage to soft tissues.
“I have a lot of monitors that I wear, and she’s faster than my monitors,” said Streeter. “Not only is she faster, she’s more accurate. She runs about 90–95% accurate while the pumps and meters run about 70–80% accurate.”
Streeter is open about sharing her disability and talking about Betty’s role in her life. After all, she said, it is hard to conceal a large white standard poodle on campus.
“I want to be open about educating people in the plant both about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs,” Streeter said. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions about service dogs: how to obtain them, what they do, even the cost of obtaining one, and people are also curious about what they do – for example, people are always fascinated that she can tell me what my blood sugar is. She has a much bigger purpose and a higher responsibility – she is a much more highly trained dog than many people expect.”
“I feel it’s a helpful metric for the company to identify places where they could make things more accessible in an able-bodied world. As a company, you think of the obvious, like ramps and elevators, but you wouldn’t necessarily think to have doors set up differently so a dog could go through. It’s important to recognize who’s working for you and why some of those things might be a beneficial change,” she said.
Betty goes everywhere with Streeter: trains, planes, buses, boats, cars, and even bars.
“We went to Chicago for St. Patty’s day, and she was in the bars with me. She came out green, but she went in and she did her job,” Streeter said.
No matter where Betty is— deep in dreams on the floor of Streeter’s work area, or wide awake and keeping a close eye on Streeter’s nighttime panic button in case it needs vigorously booped— Betty’s highest role is making sure Streeter can do anything she wants to do.
“She’s a medical device in the form of a big white fluffy dog with attitude that just happens to be at the end of my arm. I see her as an attachment of my arm. So, a lot of times when I walk into the room, I don’t think people are going to look at me and think I’m disabled,” Streeter said. “I don’t think it defines me or my job. I want people to look at me and think I’m just as capable of doing any job whether I have a dog or not. It was a big step to decide to have such a visible sign that I have a disability, but I’m going to own it.”