I definitely know how you feel. 11 years ago, I lost my best friend. She was a poodle too. She was always really loyal and obedient and you could take her for walks without a leash. My dad was packing our car to go on a trip back home after visiting my grandparents, and something just happened in her that made her run across the street right as a truck was passing by. It was really hard on me, especially because I had just lost my grandma too, who was my best friend. I lost both of my best friends and it was the hardest time in my life. I was only 7 too. We got a Maltese soon after, and she was meant to replace my poodle, but she didn't. I never bonded with her like I did with my poodle.
The only other pet I've ever had that I've bonded with like I did with my poodle was my cat. We had to give him away for some dumb reason, which upset me just as much as it did when I lost my dog. Personally, I like cats more than I like dogs. Cats are less trouble when it comes to care. Dogs need to be groomed and let outside. Cats can stay inside and just need to be played with and need their litter box cleaned.
I will say I'm VERY anti-declawing. Declawing can cause a lot of issues in a cat. Once they're declawed, they sometimes stop using the litter box because standing on the litter hurts their paws too much. Walking hurts too. Kittens scratch and use their claws simply because they don't know better. Older cats soft-paw when playing, meaning their claws don't come out. The only time you have to worry about claws is when they feel in danger. Also, if you declaw the cat, it might resort to biting if it feels in danger. Biting hurts a lot worse than scratching does, trust me. I would get an older cat from a shelter, and just buy scratching posts and cat nip to put on the scratching posts, so the cat would be more drawn to it. Also getting them fixed and playing with them a lot would probably help with the scratching thing. They'll be a lot more calm.
~ P o s e i d o n ~