Keeping him company on his shoulder is his new pet lizard "Lizlee" helping him ease the pain of losing his faithful companion, "Shiner Bock," a German Shepherd rescue, who had been his shadow since 2004.
"He's been with me for 9 years 24/7. Every time I'm gardening or at an art show or at a festival doing art. Anywhere I am, he's always been with me," Reyes said.
Reyes says on April 24 around midnight, he was in his storage unit on Stassney getting ready for an "Eeyore's Birthday after-party" where he was going to present some of his art.
Reyes says there's an on-site property manager who allows him 24/7 access.
Police say they were called to that area because of suspicious activity, possibly theft -- something they say happens in that area a lot.
"Shiner was asleep at my feet, he started growling. I told him to be quiet to stop growling. He was quiet for a few minutes then he started growling again," Reyes said.
Then, Reyes saw a flash of light outside the storage unit.
"I was probably over here coming out still. And he got shot the first time and was running that way. I didn't see the first shot but I saw the multiple shots going that way until he finally laid down. He was crying and screaming for his life and he finally laid down 50 feet away and died over there," Reyes said.
That's when he says officers cuffed him and after an hour or so went by, they finally figured out he wasn't a thief and let him see Shiner.
"I lit some Sage and they let me Sage my dog and send his spirit on and bless him and thank him for the protection that he offered me in taking a bullet for me instead of me getting shot," Reyes said.
Austin Police tell FOX 7 the dog started barking aggressively and showing his teeth. So the officer gave the dog commands to back up.
"The officer was in fear that the dog was about to attack and then he fired his weapon," said Jermaine Kilgore with Austin Police.
We asked why pepper spray couldn't have been used instead.
"If a dog is acting aggressive towards an officer and the officer feels that the dog is going to attack, the officer is not going to pull pepper spray. He's going to eliminate that threat, the dog. And the only way to do that with the options that we have is with lethal force. So we're not obligated to pull pepper spray when we have an aggressive dog that appears to be trying to attack us. That's just not the way we're trained and that's just not what the department expects of us," Kilgore said.
"Of course we are sorry, we are apologetic. I mean but...most dogs are protective. They protect their property, they protect their owners. You know, officers have a difficult job when they go out to these calls," Kilgore said.
Reyes says that night, the officer who shot Shiner did apologize to him.
"I walked up to him and I said 'I hear what you're saying, I hear you apologizing. And I forgive you. So I forgave him that night. And that's grace. That's what we can do when bad things happen, we can still have a little grace. I wish the police officers would have a little grace when they operate," Reyes said.
Just a reminder, last year after a dog named Cisco was shot by police, Austin PD re-evaluated their training to use less lethal alternatives with dogs -- unless they felt the dog might injure them.
The only inconsistency with this story is that Reyes says police continued shooting Shiner even as he ran away.
Austin Police say that wasn't the case...they only shot once.
We've filed an open records request with Austin PD for dash-cam video and audio to clear that up. We'll bring that to you as soon as we get it.
You can visit Julian's facebook page at facebook.com/supportforshiner.