Just to brainstorm, what about a ranger that starts with the idea of character + purchased pet? In other words, a ranger who doesn't get a pet but enhances what they have. It wouldn't even need to be a subclass - we already have Hunter's Mark as what should be a feature that they reused the spell mechanics for, we could do the same. Several until-end-of-long-rest spells that can buff a pet, which upcast to keep the pet on level, and some bonus action spells that could be used during combat. So a ranger keeps all of their martial goodness, trading the majority of their casting for a pet. And if there is no pet for whatever reason, they have their casting back (starting the next day).
This is an interesting way to go. While I think it makes sense to have these as spells that are just available to any ranger, a sub-class could exist that gets some mixture of "these spells are known by you and don't go against limits" and "you get to cast this or these spells X times a day equal to your wisdom mod." Plus expertise in animal handling.