Muhammad zoomed his wheelchair into his bedroom. The boy's parents asked from down the hall if he enjoyed the Last Day of School Festival. "It was great!" the eight-year-old shouted. "I won a wind-up dog at the ring toss booth!"

He pulled the fuzzy white and brown toy from his feeding pump backpack. The animatronic pet's mouth held a string tethered to a cherry red plastic ball that matched its collar of ribbon tied in a bow. A metal winding key attached under the prize pup's belly near a "Made in Korea" sticker.

Collectible animated wind-up dog with red ball

Muhammad placed the ridiculously cute mechanical terrier on a shelf comprised of an odd cast of players: a well-worn antique baseball glove, a button-eyed patchwork bear with sawdust stuffing, a miniature ship in a bottle, an "everybody wins" basketball participation trophy, an air-powered jumping robot, a stocking stuffer-sized knee-hugging elf with strands of hair jutting stick-straight from one root point, and rounded out with a plastic garbage pail full of slimy goo.

"Everything is loaded for vacay," Muhammad's moms called. "Pick a toy for the trip and let's go have fun!"

Muhammad reached to the top shelf for Major Smith O'Reens, a large scale action figure soldier-of-fortune with a chiseled chin, sculpted hair, and wearing a frogman diving suit. The kid cheered as he raced his motorized armchair with all-terrain tires out the door.

Muhammad's room became silent after the van pulled away. Now that the ball chasing poppet was real to the child who loved it, the toy sparked to life through the complicated chemical cosmology of hugs. The wind-up dog felt a pain and wondered if something had broken inside. Then it thought, This must be how lonely feels.

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