Meet a couple of best friends on a mission to help homeless pets together

When friends Marylin Sharp and Bobbie Oldfield aren't driving pets to new homes, you can find them volunteering together at Best Friends in Houston
By Nicole Hamilton

Bobbie Oldfield and Marylin Sharp are best friends who love hitting the road together and heading west, but they don’t necessarily do it for the scenery or to cross items off a bucket list (unless one of those items is helping homeless pets). No, when these two get behind the wheel, it’s for a mission ― a mission to help the country reach no-kill by 2025.

There was the time they drove from their hometown of Houston to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to give Knox, a senior cat with diabetes, a lift to his new home in San Antonio. And then there was the time they transported a dog named Bruno from Houston to the Sanctuary, where his new family was waiting for him.

Since 2008, Bobbie and Marylin have also taken many trips together to volunteer at the Sanctuary ─ seven to be exact. And they’re planning many more.

Closer to home, you can find them volunteering together at events for Best Friends in Houston (when the country isn’t practicing social distancing, of course). Together, they tag team on everything from transporting cats and dogs to the adoption venue to setting up and breaking down the event. Marylin also fosters cats and Bobbie has a soft spot for helping dogs with special needs.

“They both have such big hearts and are so much fun to be around,” says Deyra Galvan, events and outreach coordinator for Best Friends in Houston. “Their energy is one of a kind. Not only are they amazing volunteers on their own, but their friendship makes them a dynamic duo together.”

What could be more fun than volunteering with your best friend? You’ll learn more about Bobbie and Marylin by reading the following interview.

Bobbie Oldfield sitting in a chair and petting a black cat at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Tell us about your visits to the Sanctuary

Marylin: After visiting the Sanctuary together in 2008, we believed in the mission and felt that the founders and caretakers would always act on behalf of, and in the best interest of all the animals that could be brought into their fold. Since then, we have watched other Best Friends volunteers devote hours of work, always with the welfare of the animals in mind.

Bobbie: For our first visit we were able to stay in one of the cottages, and we worked in several of the animal areas for about a week. In the beginning, we both worked with dogs and cats: cleaning kennels, walking dogs (and sometimes cats), feeding, petting and loving every animal we came in contact with.

I have buried several of my pets at Angels Rest, so our visits are always a reminder of the special friends I have had the privilege of caring for over the years.

The Best Friends mission

What inspires you most in your volunteer work?

Bobbie: I’m inspired by the devotion of the people we have met and worked with, and by their kindness to animals, their belief in the mission, their untiring efforts to save animals and their unselfish commitment to each and every animal they help.

Marylin: For me, I am inspired by the love and happiness reflected on the faces of the people who adopt their special friend.

Marylin Sharp sitting on the floor at Cat World surrounded by friendly kitties

What would you tell others who are thinking of volunteering?

Bobbie: When you volunteer, you are joining one the driving forces behind the no-kill movement in America. Your effort on behalf of homeless animals will save lives and help move us toward a more compassionate nation. You will be inspired by the people you meet and the stories you hear. And the love you receive in return from the pets you care for is worth every minute spent on their behalf.

Since becoming a volunteer, what have you learned, and has volunteering made you see anything in a different way?

Bobbie: I have learned a lot about animal behavior and how to care for pets, which has been a help in caring for my own. And I have learned that there are a lot of people in our country and in our community who feel as we do about a commitment to the no-kill movement.

Marylin: I have learned how to speak up for animals and what it means to be a part of the larger community of compassionate people. I’ve also learned that there is a nation full of people who feel the same way we do about caring for animals.

Bobbie Oldfield cradling a puppy in her arms

What are you doing when you’re not volunteering with animals?

Marylin: We are both retired and are doing those things we love to do like birding, volunteering with Best Friends, traveling, visiting family and friends, and being with and taking care of our own pets. Both of us have established our own in-house kennels (more or less) and are taking in pets off the street, (taking them) out of shelters or (taking those that) are otherwise abandoned with no place to go.

It’s a very time-consuming but rewarding job. Fortunately, we enjoy doing the same things and, since my husband does not like to travel, Bobbie and I have had many adventures together. And we are planning many more!

Grab a friend and volunteer where you live

Marylin Sharp taking a black cat outside for a walk on a leash

Best Friends in Houston works collaboratively with city shelters, local animal welfare organizations and passionate individuals to save the lives of pets in shelters in Houston and the surrounding areas. To help Houston become a no-kill city for cats and dogs, Best Friends launched the Coalition to Save Houston’s Pets in April of 2018, which was followed by a community cat program, foster programs for dogs and cats, local adoption programs and an out of state transport program. Currently, Best Friends has full-time staff embedded at the Harris County Animal Shelter, one of Houston’s largest shelters. Together, we will Save Them All.

Photos courtesy of Marylin Sharp and Bobbie Oldfield