If You Give a Moose a Muffin

Last week I went to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. While most 25-year-olds would choose to spend their vacation drinking adult beverages on the beach, I prefer to visit places where I could be mauled to death by wild animals.

Bear spray literally in hand—I had my finger on the trigger for the majority our first hike—and bear bells tied to my shoelaces, I spent a good portion of the trip in places that looked like they were straight out of Twilight. Edward Cullen was nowhere to be found, but the Jacobs of the forest were among us.

But not all of the animals frightened me. I grew up reading “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” and was anxious to see if, as the story went, these lovable creatures would not only snatch up the snack, but want some jam to go with it.

Unfortunately, numerous park rangers proceeded to inform me that moose are incredibly unpredictable and dangerous. If you give a moose a muffin, it won’t want a huckleberry spread. It will kill you. Perhaps something children should be taught before they try to feed them breakfast pastries.

So bears and wolves and moose were a no-go. Add to the list mountain lions—described to us as “silent killers”—and a bison coming toward us on a hike and we suddenly realized that we were no longer at the top of the food chain (and may need a change of undergarments). The animals we came across were capable of doing some amazing—albeit terrifying—things.

But the bears and wolves and moose roaming around the untapped wilderness of Wyoming aren’t the only awe-inspiring animals out there. In fact, apartment owners and managers have the opportunity to see some of the most incredible creatures out there today in the form of service animals. And although no mace, bells or emergency whistles are required, a sense of understanding is a must.

According to Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions, it’s important to keep in mind that these animals—including dogs, miniature horses, monkeys and iguanas—all provide assistance to the disabled and cannot be included in a community’s standard pet policies.

For example, if you have a weight limit for pets, Green says this restriction does not apply to service dogs, which must be large enough to perform many of the tasks required for their owners. Pet deposits must also be waved in such instances, as service animals are not pets. If someone shows up on your doorstep with a moose, you may want charge some sort of “wear and tear” fee, but otherwise service animals should be treated as an extension of the resident at no extra charge.

On the topic of animals, Green also encourages some apartment management companies to reconsider many of their policies for traditional pets—specifically, the tendency to ban larger-breed dogs.

Green says according to an article written 15 years ago by Mindy Williams, based on research by Rob Foellinger, of the top 10 dog breeds that fare best in apartments, veterinarians and dog trainers only named one breed weighed under 20 pounds. Of the 10 worst dog breeds, seven weighed less than 20 pounds.

There is no known research on pet bison that weigh 2,000 pounds.

For more on service animals, check out Nadeen Green’s article, “At Your Service,” in the June issue of units, which mails June 8.