The furrow is gone from Louise Odom's brow, and a broad grin lights her round face.
"You can be sure I'm feeling a lot better now," nodded the 56-year-old animal lover who, with her three dogs and all her worldly possessions, was evicted from her 16th Street NW apartment on June 23 with no money, no family and nowhere to go. Her eviction had been reported in The Washington Post.
"People have been calling me and calling me to help me out, and it's all on account of my three little dogs. The first thing everyone wants to know is how are my animals. If it hadn't been for him, I just don't know what would have happened."
Odom's dogs are being cared for by a friend from the Washington Animal Rescue League.Odom is being cared for by dozens of neighbors and area residents who have called with job offers, money and assistance in finding housing since her plight was reported in the paper.
Seated on the couch in a friend's apartment (where she has been staying since her eviction) and dressed in a borrowed Altanta City T-shirt and navy cotton slacks, Odom recalled the events since her eviction.
"That first night was terrible, because it just tore up my heart to part with my dogs," she recalled. "I went to a shelter for women where they said I could stay the night, but there were people all over and no privacy. I was despondent and it was just too much for me, so I made an excuse and didn't stay."
Instead Odom walked the city streets.
"I can't explain, but I just had to walk and think. At first I was afraid, but I figured nothing else could happen to me more than had already happened."
One of Odom's neighbors had offered her lodging until Odom could relocate. Although it was midnight when Odom returned from her long walk, her friend was sitting up waiting for her.
The phone began to ring the next morning and hasn't been silent since.
Some calls were from friends, like the secretary of the veterinarian where Odom takes her dogs. Many calls were from neighbors, people who have seen Odom walking her dogs on 16th Street and were sad to hear of her eviction. Other calls were from strangers animal lovers touched by her plight.
With the approximately $600 in contributions and two dozen job offers that have poured in, Odom says she's in "pretty good shape." Her biggest problem now is finding an affordable apartment that will permit pets.
"Now I've got the money but no place to go," noted Odom. "I've got some people looking for me, I've been to real estate offices and walked all over the city. They don't mind people, but it's no-no to pets."
Odom is looking for a District apartment, preferably over a store, that costs about $175 a month.
"I suppose I could get a place in Maryland or Virginia, but I want to be here, close to the vet that saved my little dog's life," Odom said. "Right now I'm focused on finding a place to stay so I can get my pets back with me.
"I've talked to the woman who is keeping my dogs every night. I sure do miss my pups, but I don't want to go see them till I get an apartment and can take them home."
Odom is also anxious to find an apartment so she get her belongings out of storage at the Northwest Settlement House. She needs her work clothes and shoes to begin accepting some f the job offer she's received.
But Odom is hopeful that her apartment hunt will end soon, that she'll be reunited with her pets and able to start work.
"I feel great because you think you don't have a friend in the world and that nobody cares, and then all this happens - people calling trying to help," she said, her voice tight and choked with emotion. "Everybody is in my corner now."