BOZEMAN, Mont. -

"Let's go see them" said Becky Roeder to her three-year old Havanese, Dolly.

Once a month, they visit Spring Meadows retirement home to visit with residents.

"Would you like to have Dolly on your lap?" Becky said to one resident.

Dolly is a therapy dog. Her job is to comfort residents, make them laugh and make them feel loved- something that makes a difference for these folks, who may not have many years left or family nearby.

"She's happy to be here" said resident Leslie Hysell as Dolly sat next to her.

Hysell's lived at Spring Meadows for three years. Her memory is failing, but when she's with Dolly, she remembers.

"And our dog, his name was Stubby. He had a stubborn tail" she said, recalling the Cocker Spaniel she used to have.

Roeder said that's what her and Dolly aim to do. "We try and bring them just a little bit of comfort" she said. "Give them some good memories of the dogs they left behind."

The team are part of Intermountain Therapy Animals, a national organization with programs that reach worldwide. In just over 10 years, the number of teams in montana has nearly tripled to 70- 60 of them based in Bozeman.

Therapy dog teams go to hospitals, schools and even the Bozeman Public Library.
Sid- a big, lovable St. Bernard- visit kids at the library every month as part of

Intermountain Therapy's Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program. 

"In you go. Woof!" said 4th grader Mason Benedict, as he read a book to Sid.

"Having a dog is a lot more comfortable since you're reading to them" he said. "They're actually listening to you, it's really cool."

But being part of a therapy dog team has major challenges.

"There's a certain burnout factor, and you have to recognize that in yourself as well as in your dog" said Nancy Rosen, the Montana Coordinator for Intermountain Therapy.

She said she's seen dogs and owners burn out and become stressed, because they have to give so much of themselves.

"Everybody just wants to swarm Sid" said Sarah Bennett, the other half of Sid's therapy dog team.

That's why there's a lot of training. Rosen said dogs must have obedience training, or pass the Canine Good Citizen test.

After that, Intermountain carefully screens the teams.

"We have an all day workshop for just the person, and then we have a half an hour screening with the person and the animal" Rosen said. "It's a team."

If the dog- and its owner- have the right temperament, they'll pass.

But with each therapy visit, the owners are always watching for signs of stress.

"When she's stressed, she just rolls over and leans on me" Bennett said. She said Sid knows she can count on Bennett to be there when she's getting restless.

Even therapy dog need support sometimes, so the dog can be there to support the people who need them.

Both the the kids and adults who've met these dogs say they've made difference in their lives.