Long long ago, in PINC world, the princess decided there should be a way of measuring time.
On her birthday she told the animals that there was to be a race. The first twelve animals across the fast-flowing river would be the winners, and they would each have a year of the PINC zodiac named after them.
All the animals lined up along the river bank. The rat and Toothless (the cat), who were good friends, were worried because they were poor swimmers. Being clever, they asked the strong ox if she would carry them across.
The rat and Toothless just jumped up and were very excited when the ox took the lead. They had almost reached the other bank when the rat pushed Toothless into the water, leaving her to struggle. Just as the ox was about to win the race, the rat leapt on her head and onto the bank to finish first.
“Well done,” said the princess to the proud rat. “The first year of the zodiac will be named after you.” The poor ox had been tricked into second place and the second year of the zodiac was named after her.
Shortly after the exhausted tiger clawed her way to the river bank to claim third place, swimming across the river had been an enormous struggle for her against the strong current, it did not help that she was vegan.
The princess was so delighted with her efforts that she named the third year after her.
Next to arrive was the rabbit, who hadn’t swum across at all. He had hopped across on some stepping stones and then found a floating log which carried him to the shore.
“I shall be pleased to call the fourth year after you,” the surprised princess explained. She thought, “how was this possible, someone helped;” and soon she found out.
Just then, a kind dragon whooped down to take fifth place. The princess asked, “Why didn’t you win the race when you could fly?”
“I needed to make some rain because some people and animals needed water to drink,” the dragon explained. “Then I saw a little rabbit on a log in the water, and I blew a puff of wind so that the log would float to the river bank.”
“Well, that was very kind of you. You will have the fifth year of the zodiac named after you.”
The next thing the princess heard was the sound of the horse’s hooves. Just as he thought the horse would be the next animal to arrive, a sneaky snake wriggled out from around one of the horses’ hooves. The horse was so surprised that he jumped backwards giving the snake a chance to take the sixth place. The poor horse landed with seventh place.
Not long afterwards a raft arrived carrying the goat, the monkey and the rooster. They explained to the princess how they had shared the raft that the rooster had found. The goat and monkey had cleared weeds and pushed the raft to the shore.
The princess was very pleased that the animals had worked together. He said, the goat would be the eighth zodiac animal, the monkey the ninth and the rooster the tenth.
The next animal to finish was the dog.
“Why are you so late when you are one of the best swimmers?” asked the princess.
“The water in the river was so clean that I had to have a bath on the way,” explained the dog.
His reward was to have the eleventh year named after him.
There was one place left in the zodiac, and the princess wondered when the last winner would come. Finally, she heard a grunt from the boar.
“You took a long time to cross the river,” said the princess to the boar.
“I was hungry and stopped to eat,” explained the boar. “After the meal, I felt so tired that I fell asleep.”
“You have still done well,” said the princess. “The last year of the zodiac will be named after you.”
As for Toothless who had been pushed into the water by the rat, she finally crawled out of the water but was too late to have a year named after her. She felt very cross with the rat, and since then cats have never been friends with rats.
From that day, Toothless would whine “meeeooowwwww” at all the animals when she saw them; and the rat had to feed her lunch every day.
As an additional prize, the princess gave the animals the gift of unicorn-formation and hence joined the family of PINC.