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SXSW: 100K Facebook 'Likes' for dogs sends $100K to Japan

There is no shortage of stop-short things to see at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, especially during the Interactive and Film part of things which kicked off Friday,  five days before the Music portion. Emerging technologies, game stations, Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page promoting their new indie pic "Super," and Pee Wee Herman is handing out ice cream at some point this weekend.

All of this is super awesome, but none of it can compare to the sight of a gray-faced golden retriever flopped in the lobby of the Austin Convention Center, oblivious to the noise and action all around him ... at least if you’re a dog person.

Lucky, the 14-year-old retired fire and avalanche rescue dog and constant companion of philanthropist and film maker Charles Weingarten, made a surprise appearance Saturday morning to support his five former canine team members, who are flying to Japan Saturday night. What’s more, if 100,000 people 'Like' the Dog Bless You Facebook fan page in the next 10 days, the Annenberg Foundation will fund $100,000 to relief efforts following the devastating tsunami in Japan. If that number is reached by Sunday, the donation doubles to $200,000.

Weingarten and Lucky are attending the film portion of SXSW to promote Explore.org, the series they co-host that documents and aids humanitarian causes across the globe. Both Explore.org and the service animals non-profit, Dog Bless You are projects of the  Annenberg Foundation, the private family foundation on which Weingarten serves as director. So it’s not surprising that people turned to him for help getting rescue dogs to Japan.

"I got the call this morning," Weingarten told Technolog. "They said, 'Charlie, we’re shipping five dogs to Japan and we need your help.'"

With the dog’s travel covered, Weingarten decided to make the most of SXSW opportunity. "I want to build some community around these animals," he said, so he headed over to the Interactive side of things to get the word out.

"This is a historic call to action,"Weingarten announced to pretty much everyone who stopped to admire Lucky, who looked laid back and adorable in his red service vest. "We’re about to launch this on Facebook right now. You don’t need to give any money. You don’t need to buy anything. We’re just asking for your hearts and your time to help. You just have to like the page."

Go 'Like' Dog Bless you right now!

More from SXSWi:

Helen A.S. Popkin is thrilled to report that she has seen three dogs since she's been at SXSWi, where she is working very hard, as you (and Helen's boss) can clearly ascertain via Facebook and Twitter.