Memorial Services Set For San Antonio’s First Canine Concierge
Luke Tips was more than a pet, more than a faithful companion and more than your average rescued dog.
First and foremost, the Labrador Mix who passed away May 1st, was family – a member of the Tips family, owners of The Fairmount Hotel and operators of the oldest family-owned funeral home and cemetery in South Texas – Mission Parks.
But he was also part of the family at The Fairmount, the historic downtown landmark he called home. Fairmount owners Kristin and Robert D. Tips adopted this lovable pooch in2005 shortly after he was rescued from a lethal stay at what was formerly known as San Antonio Animal Care and Control Shelter, or the pound.
Luke, sick with heart worms and skittish from being abused by a former owner, was nursed back to health. Tips promptly named him “Director of Pet Relations” at the pet-friendly hotel. The 100-plus-pound four-legged hotel executive with a healthy golden coat and laid-back attitude took up residence in the immaculate lobby of The Fairmount as San Antonio’s first and only canine concierge.
A memorial service for Luke Tips is scheduled for 5:30 – 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 19 at Luke’s home, The Fairmount Hotel, 401 South Alamo St.
No one’s sure exactly how old Luke Tips was, although he likely was about five when Tips adopted him. He lived an adventurous life that rivaled that of any famed Hollywood hound dog, from Lassie to Benji and beyond.
Luke was known all over the world, thanks in part to his reputation as The Fairmount’s most famous resident. He’s been featured on movies, television, newspapers, magazines and the Internet. Luke starred in a televised travel show which is based in the United States and overseas. His credits also include a starring role in an in-flight commercial for a major airline. A global audience was introduced to Luke on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 during New Year’s Eve coverage from The Fairmount in 2006.
“Guests are immediately smitten with Luke. They can’t resist petting him, talking to him and offering him treats,” Tips said in a 2007 interview. “I’ve had people offer to buy him and take him home, but we’d never think of parting with Luke. He’s definitely part of The Fairmount family.”
With his large head, broad shoulders and droopy but gleaming eyes, Luke quickly took to his new life at The Fairmount. Guests encountered him lounging on a large padded pet bed in the first-floor salon next to the front desk, or loping amiably through the outdoor courtyard.
Luke was more than just a mascot. He had his own his own business card (Full Name: Luke Tips) and e-mail- Luke@fairmountsa.com . Guests regularly e-mailed photos of them with Luke after a recent stay, or send him a note of thanks for taking a walk with them through HemisFair Park directly across from the hotel on Alamo Street.
Guests without pets set appointments to walk or jog with Luke through HemisFair Park as a healthy, motivating way to venture outdoors and learn more about San Antonio. Some even requested that Luke stay with them in their room for the night, which he often did.
Luke’s tips from dog-walking guests, ranging from a few singles to a $100 bill, assisted charities benefiting animals, including the non-profit Bexar County Humane Society or SNIPSA (Spay, Neuter, Inject Project of San Antonio). SNIPSA was the non-profit that saved Luke from euthanasia, along with Tips’ sister-in-law and niece Lori and Natalie Tips.
Luke became so popular that a line of Luke Tips merchandise, from T-shirts to caps and more, was available for sale at The Fairmount. Luke Tips Fiesta Medals were particularly popular with guests and friends of the Tips family. Robert D. Tips is a former official Fiesta King, El Rey Feo.
When Tips married former beauty pageant queen and current Mission Park and Fairmont executive Kristin Howsley, Luke accompanied her down the aisle in a jeweled collar. It was, as Kristin recalls, one of her favorite moments during a wedding that also featured a surprise performance by Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton.
Although he was always relaxed, Luke was noticeably slower in recent years, although he brightened whenever he was around the Tips’ new twins – Peggy and Robert Tips –born earlier this year.
There will be a monument in honor Luke placed in the Mission Park Pet Cemetery, along with a memorial at the Fairmount Hotel.
If you have a photo of Luke you want to share for his memorial video, please send it to Luke@fairmountsa.com.
Luke also would want his two-legged peers to remember other animals and opt to adopt. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite pet rescue facility to honor Luke Tips.
The Tips family wants to thank everyone at the Fairmount Hotel – guests and staff –and Pet’s First Veterinary Clinic for taking such good care of Luke.
401 South Alamo, San Antonio