After wearing the walking boots for a full day, I have discovered that my feet swell considerably and become rather painful. I was given lots of advice about how to soften the leather (rubbing alcohol, water, etc.) but at risk of actually ruining the boots, I am going to take them to a shoe shop and see if they can stretch them a bit for me.
I am insanely irritated with myself over the cycle I've gone through with these boots! As it turns out, the 7-1/2 probably would have been the best size (if the sole hadn't stuck so far out over the toes in the front).
Another friend of mine, however, mentioned that she keeps a half size smaller boot for winter when her feet may not swell, and the larger size for summer month events. I think this is a good plan and may order another size up to see how that goes.