White Island eruption survivor shares heartwarming video of her reunion with loyal dog

A young survivor of the White Island volcano eruption has taken to social media to share a heartwarming encounter with her family on her first day of leave from the hospital.

In the clip, Stephanie Browitt can be seen greeting her "fur baby", Arlo, at her family's home – on his first birthday – for the first time since the tragic event on December 9.

The 23-year-old has been hospitalised for the past six months after suffering third-degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and losing parts of her fingers in the eruption off the coast of Whakatāne, New Zealand.

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Her younger sister Krystal, 21, and father Paul were among the 21 people who died as a result of the eruption.

They were part of a group of 38 from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship on a day trip to White Island.

Browitt's mother Marie, who remained on board the ship that day, can be heard in the video uploaded on to TikTok, along with Arlo howling in excitement.

"Oh my god, he's crying," she said.

View this post on Instagram

On the 4th of Dec 2019, my family left on the #ovationoftheseas to enjoy another family cruise, however we were exploring a new place, New Zealand. Instantly we were enjoying ourselves and laughing at stupid inside jokes we’d made to embarrass each other. We had already stopped at 2 city’s in NZ and explored caves, nature and shops. On the 9th of Dec, we had no idea how our lives would change forever. Dad, Krystal & I visited the #WhiteIsland volcano. It took a 1 hour bus ride & 1 hour Jet boat ride which caused extreme sea sickness, to get there. Something we weren’t warned about before buying tickets by Royal Caribbean. There I took these photos among many more. (Group photos on my sisters phone sadly 😔) Photos that were meant to bring back happy memories in the future of where we had been together. After reaching the crater and having photos taken, we were heading back off the volcano, when at 2:11pm we looked back and saw ash coming out. Not thinking much of it dad said to take a picture. The front tour guide heard us, looked back, and screamed “RUN”. BANG. The WORST moment of my life. It was because of this I lost half of my family. It was because of this I’ve been through so much FUCKING pain with my “donor” sites. It was because of this I still do suffer physically and emotionally. It was because of this, nearly 4 months on I’m still not home. Because of this these photos are no longer good memories, they literally torture me. “Maybe if I wore ...., I’d be less burnt.” “Maybe if we didn’t stop so much, we’d all be here” “If we had only chose the other fucking tour instead....” Maybe if, what if.. blah blah. It’s done and I can’t change it now, but I can change how I choose to move forward. I know people hear this often, but please... keep your loved ones close and always remind them how loved they are. #whakatane #whiteislanderuption #nzeruption #whiteislandvolcano

A post shared by Stephanie Coral Browitt (@stephaniecoral96) on

"Is that Stephanie? Hi Stephanie, say 'hello' to your mum. Welcome home darling."

Wearing a mask and gloves covering her injuries, Browitt can be seen waving to her mother in the video and excitedly caressing Arlo while telling him how much she loves him.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," Browitt can be heard saying in the video.

Sharing the moment to Instagram, Browitt said "it felt amazing" to be back home despite it being for just one day.

"So after nearly 6 months in hospital and definitely over 6 months since I've seen my fur baby, I finally got approval for day leave. On my beautiful baby's 1st birthday!!! And to say I got the best welcome back hug and cuddles from my dog is honestly an understatement," she said in her post.

"Mum had to try to stop him from jumping on me so I wouldn't get clawed (she failed miserably and I honestly didn't care lol). God he's gotten amazingly larger since I last saw him as well. But today couldn't have been any better."

Donations are still flooding in to the GoFundMe page to support the Browitt family – raising more than $79,000 of its $100,000 goal in six months.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.