If you follow me on Twitter, or are one of my coworkers, or my Ma, you would know that I would love to have a dog. Most National Parks do not allow seasonal rangers to have pets. I can understand why; with so many allergies, people not cleaning up after them, and being placed into housing with strangers every season. I would be willing to pay extra for housing if I could have one though!

Pet: any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.
Domesticate: to train or adapt (an animal or plant) to live in a human environment and be of use to humans.
Habituate: to accustom by frequent repetition or prolonged exposure.

Let me explain the never-ending loop of thought process I go through when thinking about pets and wild animals.
I get attached easily to animals. I have conversations with them; I make ultimatums with spiders and I explain to squirrels why I can’t give them food. When I see the same animals in my backyard  every day, I create a relationship with them. When I was living in Virginia, I wasn’t working or living in a park, every afternoon I had an apple and peanut butter. Afterwards I would through the apple core outside to the awaiting Mockingbird. He seemed to hang out near our house, and say hello every morning when we went outside. He would tease us when we were doing yard work. I never named him, but I got use to him, and expected him to be out there every day. Now is creating that relationship bad? I don’t think so when it’s in my own backyard.

I feel differently with the animals in National Parks. I still have affection for them. I still talk with them (Mr. Bison, I mean you no harm…. I just need to get to my car). However, I still remember that these are wild animals, and I am visiting their home. I don’t like giving them pet names, or even referring to them as pets. I feel like that gives the impression that the animals are tame, or domesticated. The impression that you can walk up to these animals and touch them, feed them, or try to put your kids on them. I feel like it takes away some of their wildness that makes them so beautiful. Sure, some of the animals have been habituated to having humans around, but I still don’t try to take my relationship with them farther.

What do you think? Am I just being a little too OCD? Or does this make sense to some of you? Where are the boundaries or lines of how we interact with animals in our life?