Once upon a time, the forefathers of human beings hunted animals and foraged wild berries for sustenance. One year, there was a great flood that drowned all the animals and ruined all the wild berries. Many people died of starvation.
Seeing this, the Jade Emperor gathered all the gods in heaven to think of a way to save mankind. Sheng Nong, the God of Grains, put forth a suggestion, “Let me teach mankind how to grow rice so that they will have rice to eat and do not have to hunt for dangerous wild animals.” The Jade Emperor also decided to send six animals to help mankind: the horse, buffalo, sheep, chicken, dog and pig. The horse pulls the carts. The buffalo ploughs the fields. The chicken wakes people up to go to work. The dog guards the house. The sheep provides milk, and the pig is raised to provide meat as food for mankind.
But, who should be tasked with taking the magical stalk of rice to the mortal realm? The rice had to be carried across a great ocean that separated Heaven and Earth. The original stalk of rice was covered with grains along its entire length. Furthermore, the ripened grains fell off easily. Therefore, no one was willing to volunteer for this difficult task.
But the little gray-haired dog thought of the starving humans and said, “Let me do it!” The Jade Emperor told the dog, “Take care of the rice along the way, for the number of grains of rice remaining on you when you arrive in the mortal realm will determine the amount of rice that will grow per stalk henceforth.”The dog wet his fur and rolled about in the grains to cover himself with them. Then, he jumped into the sea and swam with his tail above water to keep the grains from being washed away. He jumped over one wave after another before finally arriving in the mortal realm. However, most of the grains had been washed away by the ocean. The few grains that were left, were at the tip of the dog’s tail. Since then, only the tip of the rice stalk has produced rice grains.