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Music for Pets Gone to the Web

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Pets came in to the political conversation this week when the Associated Press asked the presidential candidates about their animals. Turns out, there are more than 40 pets among the candidates vying for residence in the White House. Republican John McCain has the most - 22.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Twenty-two?

MONTAGNE: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: Although it turns out most of them are fish. But John McCain also has two pet turtles and three parakeets. So, senator, this next sound is for you.

(Soundbite of a bird instruction long-playing record)

Unidentified Man: This record will be silent. It then begins your parakeet's talking lesson.

MONTAGNE: That was from a bird instruction long-playing record.

(Soundbite of a bird instruction long-playing record)

Unidentified Man: Teaching a parakeet to talk is fun. This record is specially designed to teach any healthy, normal parakeet to talk by using a scientific new method.

MONTAGNE: Ooh - a scientific, new method. History professor Katherine Grier dug up these old recordings. She's a professor at University of Delaware and author of the book "Pets in America".

She says that canaries and parakeets were most popular in the late 1800s. It's a sort of ambient room noise - we know about ambience, Steve - to keep the house from being a little too quiet.

INSKEEP: Well, apparently, that was in the days before you could just turn on the radio.

(Soundbite of a bird instruction long-playing record)

Unidentified Woman: Hi, you beautiful.

(Soundbite of wolf whistle)

MONTAGNE: Of course, some of the lessons on this record are a little dated.

(Soundbite of a bird instruction long-playing record)

Unidentified Man: In the future, always place your parakeet near enough so that he can plainly hear the inflection and sound of every word.

Unidentified Woman: Good morning.

(Soundbite of song, "Mexican Hat Dance")

INSKEEP: By the way, you can read about pet trends in America and what makes a good first pet at npr.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Mexican Hat Dance")

INSKEEP: And if you have a bird, try to train him to say, you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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