Sir, You Can’t Have a Dog around a Moose


Some of my friends call me “Ranger Jen.” And I admit I do think I am a park ranger once I enter a National Park. On our annual trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in 2018, I was peacefully watching a moose graze in Sheep Lakes (okay, people who know how geeked out I get when I see a moose know that “peacefully” isn’t the right word choice here). I had my own little spot, camera in hand, and I was having a moment.  

Then a man came toward me with three little kids and a dog, making a lot of noise. He came closer and closer, then turned and walked the kids and dog down the hill toward the moose. Now Ranger Jen would tell you that according to the rules of the park, visitors should stay one hundred yards from a moose, and dogs are not allowed in all areas of the park. But he didn’t seem to know. 

Well, a ranger can only stay silent for so long. 

“Sir, you can’t have a dog around a moose,” I said firmly. I had read too many stories of moose getting spooked or angered by dogs with their owners and people getting attacked, and I was worried about the kids.  

“He’s on a leash,” the man grumbled back. 

“I don’t care. The moose doesn’t like the dog.” I sounded like my first grade teacher Mrs. Nehr who scolded us if we took too long at the drinking fountain. But I didn’t care.

The man continued toward the moose and then drifted off towards another spot – maybe embarrassed, maybe mad at me, I don’t know. My husband and kids, on the other hand, had joined me but during the incident had slowly backed away from me, finding another location to watch the moose away from the anger (cough, authority) of Ranger Jen.  

Right or wrong, this red-headed ranger can’t help her passion for moose and the great outdoors. Maybe I”ll see you out there. Just make sure you’re following the rules.  

Jen Ritchie

I'm a nature photographer who loves capturing beautiful landscapes and wildlife from our yearly trips out West and parks here closer to home.

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