Meet Rahanna Gray, a 26-year-old pet groomer whose colorful doggie dye jobs turn heads on Philly’s streets and on Instagram.

• Becky with the good hair: “I think the dogs like getting the color because they get more attention and you know dogs love attention.”

• Old habits dye hard: “I have color all over the curtains, on the floor, all over me. They move. They shake. The dye goes everywhere. There’s really no way to stop it.”

Rahanna Gray wants to unleash your dog’s inner rock star.

She can see through those thick layers of fur, to the mohawk just waiting to be uncovered below, and she can tell that purple — not pink — hair dye would compliment his tiny ears and paws quite nicely.

Gray’s unusual dog-grooming styles turn heads across the city — and on Instagram— but the best effect she has on her four-legged clientele can’t be seen. It can only be felt, deep in their little doggy souls.

“I love adding swag to their wag,” Gray said. “They look at you like, ‘Thank you. I really appreciate what you just did for me.’"

Major the dog sports a new dyed mohawk by groomer Rahanna Gray. She runs her dog grooming business, Stylish Pooch, out of an RV in Philadelphia.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Major the dog sports a new dyed mohawk by groomer Rahanna Gray. She runs her dog grooming business, Stylish Pooch, out of an RV in Philadelphia.

Since she opened her own business, Stylish Pooch Mobile Grooming, two years ago at the age of 24, Gray’s heard it all about her kaleidoscopic doggie dye jobs, from “I didn’t know you could do that to a dog” (you can) to “that’s inhumane” (it isn’t). She uses Opawz permanent hair dye for dogs, which is nontoxic, and gets brushed into the pet’s hair and then rinsed off.

But Gray’s business isn’t so mobile anymore. The used 1996 RV she bought has had so many problems that it no longer runs. She still works out of the vehicle, which remains parked on a Germantown street, but the change has meant a drastic drop in clientele, especially since she can no longer reach elderly clients or those without cars.

What hasn’t diminished, however, is Gray’s determination to succeed and her positive attitude.

“There’s no Plan B. There’s no ‘just in case.’ This is it,” she said. “I don’t see myself doing anything other than this. I love what I do and I just feel this is my calling."

A graduate of W.B. Saul High School, Gray grew up in a Germantown house where her parents were always bringing stray animals home. They even had a wayward rooster for a few days once, until its rightful owner was found.

“It was definitely a zoo,” she said.

Though her family had cats, lizards, and rodents, Gray said dogs have always held a special place in her heart.

“Dogs don’t have any other thing on this planet but to love us, so the only thing we can do for them is to love them, take care of them, and show them how much they mean to us," she said.

Gray began her career at the PetSmart in Plymouth Meeting, first as a pet bather and then as a dog groomer after the store put her through grooming school. After eight years at the store, Gray started her own business in 2016. A friend was the first person to request that she dye her dog’s hair a wild color. After researching the process and method, Gray gave it a try.

When a picture of the painted pooch was posted on Instagram, “it blew up,” she said.

Today, Gray’s Instagram is full of her colorful clientele, whose hairdos range from mohawks to ombre dye jobs. She’s taken calls from people from as far away as California who’ve seen her work and want her to style their pet.

Gray dreams of one day being mobile again and owning her own fleet of grooming vehicles, but until then, she’s content doing what she loves out of a rusted trailer. No matter that the first step of the trailer is missing. She knows she’s already taken bigger steps to get where she is today.

“I’m the only one in my family who has their own business, and I feel like I have to do it for them,” she said. “I have to do it for myself, and I have to do it for them.”

Know someone in the Philadelphia area whose story deserves to be told — or someone whose story you'd like to know? Send suggestions for We the People profiles to Stephanie Farr at farrs@phillynews.com or call her at 215-854-4225. Send tips via Twitter to @FarFarrAway.

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